Feature Friday: Maya Gohill


I was first introduced to Maya at the media opening of Calcutta Cricket Club. Brimming with passion and soaking up inspiration everywhere, Maya is one of the most talented artists I have seen. I had the chance learn more about this incredible woman, what inspires her and what advice she has for budding artists.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your work. Where are you from? What do you do?

I paint what I call “satirical portraits” and my narrative pieces tend to be whimsical, colourful and of an abstracted reality. I have done several family portrait -type pieces for private clients, and a handful of larger pieces, the largest being the 1000+ square foot mural that I did recently for the Simons department store in downtown Calgary. Most recently, I stepped out of the world of oil painting momentarily to design a new, vibrant and fun, Indian restaurant called Calcutta Cricket Club, which in many ways looks and feels similar in style to my paintings. 

I have been an oil painter since I graduated with an undergrad BFA degree from UofC in my hometown of Calgary. I continued to develop my skills via a graduate degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I spent a large portion of my professional life teaching at the post-secondary level in both California and Calgary, at ACAD, but lately I have settled into working full time as a painter.

What inspires you to do what you do? How did you start doing this work?

I’m constantly inspired by other artists whom I admire, such as Olaf Hadjek, Guim Tio, and David Hockney among others, and I am inspired significantly by the world of interior design. I love strong shapes, patterns, and colours when they are put together in striking and intelligent ways. I find myself inspired by combinations where I see this, be it in an unusual piece of furniture, a beautifully-styled and well-balanced room, or an illustration or painting.

Inspiration lies everywhere.

In many ways the path I took was not an option, it just was. In university, I took general studies courses but found myself not as engaged with the subjects as I was by art and art history. I had always been a creative child, making art and drawing at a young age, and I come from a family of artists and creatives. My grandfather was a photographer and filmmaker, and my grandma was an artist. Other relatives have also followed creative paths. It sort of runs in the family.

What inspires you most about your community?

I love that Calgary is growing so quickly and that it has such a hunger to become a vibrant and interesting culture. Despite that Calgary’s population is over a million, it still has the feel of a small town, with the fact that there are fewer than three degrees of separation between most people. This makes it a very friendly place to live because you don’t need to go far before you bump into someone you know. This is especially true in the art and design industry which is a big part of my social group. Calgary is a great place. The majority of my favourite people all live here.

If you could give anyone who is starting out in your field one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be fearless and only answer to yourself and your dreams.

Tell me three fun facts about yourself.

  1. I can always estimate the right size of container for emptying leftovers. Never too empty or overflowing - always just right. :)
  2. I have an obsession for thrifting vintage furniture and home goods, and I rearrange my house probably once every month.
  3. I once had my portrait painted by Don Bachardy, life partner of the late Christopher Isherwood (author), and the subject of several David Hockney paintings, and films such as Cabaret, Chris & Don, and Christopher and His Kind. In his portrait he made me look a little like Rhea Perlman from Cheers.

How can people get in touch?

Website: www.mayagohill.com Email: art@mayagohill.com Twitter: @MayaGohill Instagram: @mayagohill

Do you know of a person, business, non-profit or other organization doing amazing work in Calgary? Tell me about it! Visit the Feature Friday page for more information!