A pluridisciplinary and self-taught artist, René Lemay (1934-2015) has made his mark in contemporary realist painting for over 25 years. In any medium, he favoured expressions of joy and life over academicism. First in drawing and watercolour, and then in acrylic, etching, lacquer and bronze sculpture, his work celebrates the here and now. His pieces have been featured in individual and collective exhibitions in North America and Asia, in many galleries and in public and private collections.
Born in Montréal in 1934, Lemay felt a strong inclination toward the arts since his early childhood. Despite this, he practiced various trades before finally giving free rein to his passion in 1983. He learned ceramics and lithography and, in the 1970s and 1980s, founded an artisanal pottery studio and a publishing company. He followed this atypical path back to the visual arts, later earning a reputation as a watercolourist.
In 1990, he participated in his first of many professional exhibitions. His subsequent work in acrylic is known for its vibrant hues, its liveliness and its expressions of delight. In the 1990s, Lemay began travelling extensively. These travels marked a turning point in his artistic journey, as can be seen in his choice of colours and his paintings’ subjects. During this period, the Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Asia became the epicenters of his creative universe. He sketched the inspiration for his work in Thailand, China, Bali, Vietnam and Singapore. In Hanoi, he learned techniques such as lacquer and, more recently, bronze sculpture from the masters. Today, Lemay's Gallery is still open to public during summer time, in Magdalen Islands.