Poppa Wilson (1925-2020) was a Vineland, Ontario-based folk artist. Self-taught, and having rarely visited a gallery or looked to other artists, he made thousands of works of art, all from the age of 80 onward. This is the first major solo exhibition of his works.
Poppa’s paintings depict scenes from daily life, in vibrant hues, though he used paints found around the house. His memories of life in rural southern Ontario are an endearing recollection of stories sometimes true and sometimes imagined. There are many farm scenes, showing houses and barns with farm animals and ponds, trees and birds. All are painted instinctively and directly, without the use of perspectival drawing, and always with a grand sense of space. A whole series of works revolve around his dreams of seeing the circus. He created sculptures from found wood, depicting people and animals such as owls and “mighty” squirrels. Poppa also spent his time writing poetry, and his words align perfectly with his visual art practice. Indeed, his whole environment was artistically magical—the home he shared with his wife, Granny, is an artwork itself, with every surface and corner treated to their signature vision: a warm, colourful, and comforting style. Poppa Wilson’s creative life was whole and expressed in his own inimitable language.
This first major exhibition will position Poppa’s work in a new context, shining light on his significant achievements as a self-taught artist.
Poppa Wilson, Walking my friend, June of 2007, acrylic paint on old wine barrel top.