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The Uniter, Issue 07, Volume 65, October 14, 2010

The whimsical landscapes of Gary Shapira

The mix of ink and watercolours make Fantasy Landscapes pop out from the wall

By Ellie Einarson, Volunteer Writer

Although Gary Shapira himself is humble and subdued, his colourful landscapes are anything but.

Fantasy Landscapes, his current exhibition at the Semai Gallery, displays his drawings of playful, intricately detailed landscapes.

Vibrant red and orange buildings jut out from lush green foliage. His skilled use of negative space causes the landscapes to pop out from the wall, inviting the viewer into Shapira's whimsical world.

Since the age of six, drawing has been second nature to Shapira and has been his escape from reality.

"I like the immediacy of drawing," he said. "You just have your drawing material, your paper, and that's it. There's no other technology involved."

While studying art at the University of Manitoba, Shapira was inspired by his professors Ivan Eyre and George Swinton.

"I just learned a lot by watching and talking to others. George Swinton used to get excited if you spilled some paint. He just made you feel good about whatever you did.

Although a professor jokingly told him to go to Paris and work in a garret, Shapira chose to become an elementary school teacher.

Between family and work, Shapira had little time for art.

Now that he has retired, he has more time to devote to his passion.

The vibrant colours in his work are evidently inspired from his travels to Spain, Cuba, and Mexico. He takes a small sketchbook with him as he travels, and then extrapolates at home.

"I look at a landscape and then I let my imagination go rampant," he said. "I work with what I have. I think that's what art is."

Shapira hopes that others can emotionally connect to his work as well.

"I just hope that people can get some sort of feeling out of my art, whether it be positive or negative."

Fantasy Landscapes is on display at the Semai Gallery at 264 McDermot Ave. until Saturday, Oct. 30. Visit

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