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Maud Lewis at AGGV

“Paintings that delight in optimism and vitality.”

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is pleased to present Maud Lewis, a retrospective of over 130 paintings by beloved Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis (1903-1970). Making its only BC stop at the AGGV, on a cross-Canada tour, the much-anticipated exhibition opens with a free public open house on June 18 and is on view through October 16.

Lewis’ mastery of colour, endless compositional variety and exuberant vernacular style mark her as one of Canada’s most formally inventive folk artists. From whimsical patterns of cats and kittens, to rustic images of horse-drawn carts and oxen, to breezy scenes of ships in the harbour, the exhibition will give west coast audiences an opportunity to enjoy Lewis’ cheerful depictions of rural life on Canada’s east coast.

Lewis started painting young (alongside her mother), creating handmade Christmas cards of rural winter images, such as skaters on a pond near a covered bridge, or a couple bundled up in a horse-drawn sleigh sliding over a silvery snowbank. Lewis and her mother sold the creations door-to-door.

The stories told by Lewis’s art have often been eclipsed by the tale of her difficult life of poverty and family cruelty along with her physical disabilities. This retrospective, curated by McMichael Canadian Art Collection Chief Curator Sarah Milroy, features many never-before-seen pieces and focuses on Lewis’s enduring aesthetic appeal and her artistic accomplishments.

As an adult working from her tiny cabin in Marshalltown, Digby County, NS, she produced myriad small paintings, using available materials, and sold them on the roadside near her home. Her exuberant depictions of everyday life have made Lewis a much-beloved folk artist, with the 2016 film Maudie (starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke) bringing her even more new fans.

The exhibition is accompanied by a colour, hardback catalogue featuring a lead essay by Milroy, with reproductions of all exhibition works. This exhibition is organized and circulated by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection with support from the Government of Canada.