Artist Q & A: Robert Lemay

University of Alberta graduate Robert Lemay has had his grid-like, fashion- themed oil paintings showcased in galleries around the world— including The Front Gallery right here in Edmonton.

December 29, 2017

Liv Tyler, 20 x 16, oil on canvas, 2015

Q: What is your dream project?

A: Right now I'm working at the scale I want, in the way I want, so I feel very lucky. I suppose my dream project would be to do a photo shoot with some really famous fashion person and do paintings based on that.

Q: How do you overcome creative roadblocks?

A: You look for new inspiration and try to remember that it’s supposed to be fun so if it’s getting really boring and you feel like you’re repeating yourself then really think about why that is, have some self reflection and then try and add some new things to the mix. Turn your frustration into some sort of creative change.

Grace and Cary, 26 x 26, oil on canvas, 2017

Q: What is your favourite piece in the Front Gallery right now?

A: From working with fashion imagery, I’ve been doing a series based on movie stills. It’s something that only exists as a split second in a movie and then you can actually stop it and make a painting of it and hope it lasts the way a Renaissance painting does. This one (“Heida Reed”) I like because of the drama and it’s not conventionally pretty, I like the sense that she has some contemplation.

Q: You use a grid a lot in your art, how does that work?

A: I tape off each row so I’m just looking at something very abstract. I was finding it tedious to draw everything out and then paint it in — it wasn’t as exciting. I’m just looking at each square and paint what I see and then it builds. The little differences you get row by row then read as a kind of digital interference.

This article appears in the January 2018 issue of Avenue Edmonton. Subscribe here.


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