Gregg Simpson


  • What is your background?

    I was born into an artistic family. My father was an award-winning Modernist architect who, during the late 1940’s and through the1950s, designed several iconic buildings in Vancouver, Canada. In his student years, he was also a very good visual artist. My mother was a classical singer who performed both opera and song recitals in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s and hosted a radio program on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (the CBC).

    When I was a child, we moved into a Modernist dream house designed by my father. A thirty-foot long mural of geometric abstract shapes dominated the family room in which I played, and inevitably became a strong influence on me wanting to become a visual artist.

    As a teen, I discovered modern art, jazz and 20th century orchestral music. The book which piqued my interest in Modern Art movements was Vision in Motion by Lazlo Moholy Nagy. I was then off to the races and have maintained a keen interest in Modern Art, jazz, and orchestral music ever since.

  • What inspires you and what is your creative process?

    I have been inspired by all the great art I have seen close up, especially in Europe where I have often exhibited. My process is based in both natural forms and improvisation, which as a jazz drummer I am inclined towards.

  • What is your favourite subject matter and why?

    Although much of my work is improvised, it is always based first and foremost in landscape, the figure or still life.

  • Who are your biggest influences?

    My influences among the Surrealists were primarily Max Ernst and Rene Magritte. They represent the two tendencies in my work—a metaphysical, precise stye and free flowing improvisation. I have to also add Picasso’s work from the 1920’s work and late Matisse, particularly his cut outs. In addition, I admire the work of Jackson Pollock, particularly his semi-figurative abstracts of the 1940’s, and most of the work by of Willem de Kooning.

  • How have you stayed inspired and energized during the pandemic?

    For an artist, the only salvation, it has been said, is in the studio. That and vaccination! When the pandemic began, I was working on cubistic still life paintings that, as the pandemic progressed, became rather claustrophobic arrangements of multiplying shapes.

  • What is/are your favourite medium(s)?

    My favourite mediums are acrylic, oil, ink, gouache with pastel, and collage.

  • How long does it take to complete a piece, and what is the entire process? Do you like working on different pieces at the same time?

    The average length of time to complete a canvas is one month, especially if it is one that I am finishing in a precise manner.

  • Name an artist(s) you’d like to be compared to.

    Max Ernst would be first in line primarily because of the way in which he combined a sense of geometry with organic improvisation. He was a master of harnessing chance by using techniques which I have also explored such as frottage, decalcomania, and grattage, all constructed in a way reminiscent of collage.

  • What subjects do you pursue and why?

    I was a professional jazz drummer for over forty years, and I also read mainly non-fiction about art, politics, science and history. When I was younger, I studied a great deal of mythology and esoteric traditions such as alchemy.

  • What other artists have been inspirational to you in your work?

    Historically. I look to Cezanne for landscape and Picasso for the figure and still life. I also appreciate Kandinsky, Klee, Gauguin, Leger and many others. I tend to prefer ‘Modern Art’ to ‘Contemporary Art’, which often relies on contemporary issues that fade with the passing of years. Modern Art celebrates the imagination and allows the artist to combine disparate elements that range from classicism to complete abstraction.

  • What do you hope people feel when they view your art?

    I hope viewers experience a kind of pure poetic resonance in the sense of, as Kandinsky put it, letting art rise to the condition of music. I prefer work which can be given different interpretations by each viewer.


Projects & Collaborations


    My current project is a series begun in 2018 in the south of France which has been exhibited in Seillans, a village in the Var where Max Ernst lived. The exhibition has been scheduled for Paris, Rome and Copenhagen, but keeps getting postponed as a result of the pandemic.

    2019 – Board member of the Bowen Island Museum and Archives, Canada

    2005 – Co-founder of the Coast Art Trust Society, Canada

    1995 – Urban Issues Committee, Vancouver Community Arts Council, Canada

    1992 – Heritage Committee to save the Vancouver Public Library, Canada

    1991 – Curator of Gallery Alpha, West Vancouver, Canada

    1977 – Co-founded the West Coast Surrealist Group, Gallery Move, North Vancouver, Canada

    1977 – Co-founder of New Orchestra Workshop, Vancouver, Canada

    1968 – Co-founder of the Mandan Ghetto Gallery, Vancouver through the Federal OFY Program, Canada

    1965 – Founder of the Sound Gallery and participated in Motion Studio (1966) and Intermedia (1967-73) referred to as the “Golden Age’ of multi-media in Vancouver, Canada


    November 2021 – Contributing work to an international exhibition of Surrealism in Cairo, Egypt.

    2021 – Il Mundo di Colori, Pocket Art Studio, Rome, Italy (group)

    2022 – (25th May to 3rd June) Dream Gardens at the MO C.A. Gallery in Rome, Italy

    The Galleri Bredgade in Copenhagen (solo)


    Dream Gardens, Pop-up Galerie Atelier, Paris and MO C.A. Gallery, Rome, Italy

    Padua Art Fair, Padua, Italy

    Surrealism Beyond Borders, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, moving to the Tate Modern, London, UK (also accompanied by a major publication by two curators from these institutions). Group survey exhibition.

    Dream Gardens, Galleri Bredgade 22, Copenhagen, Denmark


    2020 – Group Exhibition, Bellman Gallery, Stockholm, Sweden

    2019 – 100 Anos de Surrealismo, Centre Culturel Espacio Matta, Santiago Chile (international survey)

    Quello Che L’Arte Raacconta, Spazioio Porpora, Milan, Italy (group)

    Il Sentimenti del Mio Cuore, Mega Art Gallery, Corchiano, Italy (group)

    Dream Gardens, Salle du Couvent, Seillans, France (solo)

    Contemporary Summer in Assisi, Assinarte, Assisi, Italy (group)

    2018 – Shadow Talk, Artifact Gallery, New York, USA (solo)

    Lost Worlds, Adelinda Allegretti Gallery, Gualdo Tadino, Umbria, Italy (solo)

    Pastel Journals, BIAC Gallery, Bowen Island, BC, Canada (solo)

    2017 – The Colour of Dreams, Galeria Arte Borgo, Rome, Italy (solo)

    The Colour of Dreams, Galerie Meatanoia, Paris, France (solo)

    2016 – Viaggio Interiore, Spazio 40, Rome, Italy (group)

    ARS a Milano, Spaziarti Art Ungallery, Milan, Italy (group)

    Spring in Rome, Flyer Gallery, Rome (group)

    Les LLaves del Deseo, National Library, San José, Costa Rica (group)

    2015 – Eye Candy, Loreta Larkina Gallery, Venice, Italy (2 person)

    Kunst 2015, Gallery Zero, Berlin, Germany (group)

    Asemic Writing, International Survey Exhibition, The Spiral, Birgu, Malta (group)

    2014 – Floral Immersions, (with Jeanne Sarich), BIAC Gallery, Bowen Island, BC, Canada

    Cornucopia (collective works with Rik Lina and John Welson), Llianelli Library, Llianelli, Wales

    2013 – The Atlantean Years, 1970-1975, Fundacion-Museo Granell, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

    Sentinelles, Espace Kaméléon, Paris, France (2 person with Guy Ducornet)

    The Luminous Dance, Rouges-en-Verts, Normandy, France (solo)

    2012 – The Atlantean Years, 1970-1975, Museu Dom Dinis, Estremoz, Portugal (solo)

    The Atlantean Years, 1970-1975, Museu Regional, Beja, Portugal (solo)

    Surrealism 2012, Goggle Art Centre, Reading, PA (international survey)

    2011 – Out of the Forest, Evergreen Cultural Centre Gallery, Coquitlam, BC, Canada (solo)

    2010 – Totems Personelles, Espace Kameleon, Paris, France (solo)

    Dream Totems, Colorida Gallery, Lisbon, Portugal (solo)

    Coast Art Trust: Momentum, Leighdon Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (group)

    Cross Connections: Four Decades of Contemporary Art in the Pacific Northwest, University of Victoria Maltwood Gallery, Victoria, BC (regional survey)

    2009 – El Umbral Secreto, Museo Salvador Allende, Santiago, Valparaiso and Talca, Chile (international survey show)

    Exposiçäo de Surrealismo actual Illuminaçöes Descontinuas, Convento de San Jose,

    Lagoa, Portugal (group)

    S.A.M. 2009, Chateau d’Auvers, Auvers-sur-l’Oise, France (art fair)

    2008 – O contrário do Olhar, Casa de Cultura, Coimbra, Portugal (international survey show)

    West Coast Mediterranean, The Gallery at Artisan Square, Bowen Island, BC, Canada (solo)

    El Surrealismo como fenómeno colectivo, Museo Granell, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

    2007 – Group exhibition, Montserrat Gallery, New York

    Um Postal Para Mario Cesariny, Museu Vermhelho, Estremoz, Portugal (international invitational show dedicated to the late Mario Cesariny)

    2006 – Salzburg Art Fair (with Galeria d’arte Gaudi, Madrid), Salzburg, Austria

    Abstractions (with Amy Ernst), Carteret Gallery, Morehead City, North Carolina

    Selected Drawings 1976-2006, Seymour Art Gallery, North Vancouver, BC, Canada (solo)

    West Coast Surrealists, Grand Forks Art Gallery, Grand Forks, BC, Canada (group)

    2005 – West Coast Surreal, Museo Granell, Santiago de Compostela, Spain (group)

    Abstractions et Figurations, Château Grimaldi, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France (group)

    2004 – Contemporary Surrealism, Galeria Zero, Barcelona, Spain

    Summer Group exhibition, Art-Domain Gallery, Port Andratx, Mallorca

    2003 – Euloge du petit format, Christiane Puegeot Cultural Center, Paris (international survey)

    Selected Works 1999-2003, Bfly Atelier, Vancouver, Canada (solo)

    Une Nouvelle Arcadie Salle des Artistes, Colomars, France (solo)

    Una Nuevo Arcadie, Galeria d’Art Zero, Barcelona, Spain (solo)

    Convergency Art-Domain Gallery, Port Andratx, Mallorca, Spain (group)

    Abstra, Akros Gallery, Bilbao, Spain (group)

    2002 – Europ’Art 2002 International Art Fair, Geneva, Switzerland

    Inaugural Exhibition, Grupo Batik Art, Salona Barna, Barcelona, Spain (group)

    2001 – Une Nouvelle Arcadie, Aérport Nice-Côte d’Azur, Nice, France (solo)

    Selected Drawings 1978-1999, Galleria Assioma, Prato, Italy (solo)

    A New Arcadia, Lichthaus Gallery, Innsbruck, Austria (solo)

    2000 – Déssins Selectionées 1978-1999, Salle du Couvent, Seillans, France (solo)

    Una Nouva Arcadia, paintings and pastels, Fortezza di Montalcino, Italy (solo)

    Phantoms of Light, digital art/pastels/paintings, Studio 10, Vercelli, Italy (solo)

    1999 – Continental Drift, Simon Patrich Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (group)

    1998 – Binario Vivo: Ambiente E Creativita Sulla Strada Ferrata, Vercelli, Italy (touring show)

    Electrica Mente (digital art), Studio 10, Vercelli, Italy (group)

    Maldoror Park, Diversité Surréaliste, Université de Québec, Montréal (international survey)

    1997 – Selected Artists, Nicholas Joseph Fine Arts, New York, NY, USA (group)

    1996 – il Cielo Contaminato, Salone Dugentesco, Vercelli and Trento, Italy (group)

    Aprés Miro, Bennett Gallery, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC (solo)

    Le Dessin Automatique 1945-95 Portrieux and Plœuc-sur-Lié, Brittany (organized by PHASES, Paris) (international survey show)

    Phases of Desire, CASE Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY (group)

    1995 – Le Dessin Automatique 1945-95, College Camille Claudel; St.Quay, Brittany

    Vancouver: 1965-75, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (survey show)

    Constellations, Surrealism and Its Affinities Carleton University, Ottawa (donation of the collection of Michel P. Christensen)

    1993 – Lyric Landscapes, Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond BC, Canada (solo)

    1992 – Lumière du Jour/Lumière Noir, Galerie Lumière Noir, Montreal/Quebec, Canada (group)

    1991 – Tribal Dynamics, Gallery Alpha, West Vancouver, Canada (solo)

    1986 – Open Cages, Melmoth group, Pitt International Gallery, Vancouver (group)

    Modern Ghosts, Richmond Art Gallery; Richmond, BC; (solo)

    Exposicao Internacional Surrealismo e Pintura Fantástica, Teatro Iberico, Lisbon, Portugal (international survey show)

    1985 – West Coast Surrealists, Simon Fraser University Gallery, Burnaby, BC, Canada (group)

    1984 – Retrospective: 1972-1984, Art Gallery of Algoma: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada (solo)

    New Art Gallery, Toronto, Canada (solo)

    1982 – Recent Works, Galerie Surrealiste, Toronto, Canada (solo)

    Mixed Media Works, Forest City Gallery, London, Ontario, Canada (solo)

    Arteder 82, Bilbao, Spain (international survey show)

    1981 – Associations, Galerie Surrealiste, Toronto, Canada (group)

    1980 – On Canvas, Robson Square Media Centre, Vancouver, Canada (regional survey show)

    West Coast Surrealists, Gallery Move, Vancouver, Canada (solo)

    1979 – West Coast Surrealists & Paul Wunderlich, Bayard Gallery, Seattle (group)

    West Coast Surrealist Group, Hindenberg Gallery, Bethesda, Maryland, USA (group)

    WashArt ’79, Washington, D.C., USA (art fair)

    Other Realities: The Legacy of Surrealism in Canadian Art, Agnes Etherington

    Art Centre, Kingston, Ontario; Canada House, London, UK; Centre Culturel Canadien, Paris, France

    Paperworks: B.C. Government Collection, Centre Culturel Canadien, Paris; Canada House, London; C.C.C., Brussels.

    1978 – Surrealism Unlimited, Camden Arts Centre, London, UK, (international survey)

    1977 – From This Point Of View, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (local survey show)

    West Coast Surrealist Group, Gallery Move, North Vancouver, Canada 

    1975 – Pacific Rim Consciousness, SFU, Burnaby, BC; University of Malaysia (group)

    1973 – Canadian West Coast Hermetics Fine Arts Gallery, UBC; Centree Culturel Canadien, Paris; Ste. Brieuc, Brittany; Canada House, London, UK; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Charleroi, Belgium; McMaster University; McIntosh Gallery, U. Western Ontario, Canada (group)

    Claw Series, Galerie Allen, Vancouver, Canada (solo)

    1972 – The Private Patron, Simon Fraser University Gallery, Burnaby, Canada (local survey show)

    Paintings and Collages, Open Space Gallery, Victoria, Canada (solo)

    1971 – Vancouver School of Collage, Fine Arts Gallery, UBC (local survey show)

    1970 – Carmen Lamanna Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (group)

    Colour Optics: Burnaby Art Gallery, Canada (local survey show)

    1969 – Normal Constants, Simon Fraser University, Canada (solo)

    Intermedias, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Canada (group)

    Focus ’69, Bau-xi Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (group)

    Three person exhibition, Bau-xi Gallery, Canada (with Pierre Coupey and Ron Wattier)

    1968 – Spectrum ’68   Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (local survey show)

    1967 – Mandan Company Presents Western Supplies, Bau-xi Gallery, Canada (group)


    2018 – ShenZhen Art Fair, (by special invitation) Shenzhen, China

    2006 – Salzburg Art Fair (rep. by Galeria d’arte Gaudi, Madrid), Salzburg, Austria

    2002 – Europ’Art 2002 International Art Fair, Geneva, Switzerland

    1998 – Art 98, Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre, Vancouver, Canada


    Museo-Fundacion Eugenio Granell, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

    Lord Eastleigh Foundation, Monaco

    National Museum of Fine Arts, Santiago, Chile

    Museu Dom Dinis, Estrmoz, Portugal

    University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

    Evergreen Cultural Centre Gallery, Coquitlam, BC, Canada

    Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC, Canada

    Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa, Canada

    Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

    Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa, Canada

    BC Government Collection, Victoria, BC, Canada

    City of Vancouver Collection, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada

    Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond, BC, Canada

    Simon Fraser University Gallery, Burnaby, BC, Canada

    Lions Gate Hospital Foundation, North Vancouver, Canada

    Vancouver General Hospital/UBC Foundation, Vancouver, Canada


    2003 – Canada Council Travel Grant for solo exhibitions in Spain and France

    Diplôme d’Honneur, Associations des Artistes de Colomars, Colomars, France

    2001 – Made an Academicien Correspondant, Accademia Internazionale Greci Marino, Vercelli, Italy.

    Department. of Foreign Affairs and International Trade grant for solo exhibitions in France and Italy.

    2000 – DFAIT grant for solo exhibitions in France and Italy

    1976 – Canada Council Short Term Grant: Video

    1972 – Canada Council Materials Grant: Painting

    1971 – Canada Council Arts Bursary: Painting & Research in Europe

    1968 – Canada Council Short Term Grant: Painting


    2005 – CBC Radio feature on exhibitions in Europe

    2003 – A New Arcadia, the Art of Gregg Simpson, Fountain Productions for Bravo TV


    Canadian Art Database, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada

    BC Artists, Sim Publishing, Victoria, Canada

    2005Surrealism and Mediology in English Canada, Université J.V. Picardie, Amiens, By Prof. Yves Laroque

    2001 – Essay on the New Arcadia Series, by Prof. Antonio Malmo, Accademia Tiberina, Rome, Italy

    1996 – The Idea of Surrealism in English Canada, by Prof. Yves Laroque, Sorbonne, Paris, France

    1981 – José Pierre: Surrealism in Canada, Université Rabelais de Tours, France


    Books written by Gregg and all the critical writing on him.