Maya Eventov wants her work to be approachable. The artist tells the story of a painting that was hung in a hospital, and a patient who was particularly drawn to and affected by her work. “At first he could only see shadows and shapes. It’s so textural—he would touch the painting.” As his vision slowly came back, he often visited the painting, and was able to see more and more of it each day. This stuck with Eventov, who says her goal is for “people who have never bought art—never wanted art—to see my painting and have to have it.”
Eventov’s work evokes joyfulness and is often reminiscent of the bold colours of the Mediterranean and scenes of her travels. Her approach to art stems from her upbringing in communist Russia, where original art was always embraced. She started painting at age six in the cultural mecca of Leningrad, when her mother recognized her passion and talent. “There was a show on television about people painting Matryoshka (Russian nesting dolls). She thought it was tedious work, but I thought they were lucky to be able to paint all day. She knew she had to put me in classes.” By the time she was in high school, Eventov was studying art seven days a week. “I identify myself as attached to my pencil or brush,” says Eventov. “I can’t see myself without it. It’s just who I am, and the more I was doing it, the more it became who I am.”
It was an eye-opener for Eventov when she left her native land and arrived in Canada in the 1990s—the art scene was drastically different here. “It was prints mainly, which was very uncommon in Russia.” It was hard to make a living as an artist in Canada, and most of her acquaintances encouraged her to change career paths and go into computers. Ever the artist, Eventov refused and continued to tend to her passion. She embraced the change of scenery, and says it gave her freedom to explore different subjects.
It wasn’t long before the Toronto-based artist started showing her work in galleries. And bucking the trend, Eventov rejected the notion of allowing galleries to put her work on consignment. “I believed that if the gallery loved my work enough, they would pay me up front. And then they would work hard promoting it because they’d already invested money in my work.” To say her gamble paid off is an understatement. She has been exhibiting her work internationally for more than 20 years, with solo shows in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Mississauga, Ont.’s popular Crescent Hill Gallery has been supporting Eventov’s work for two decades, and they continue to carry dozens of her paintings, including stunning floral abstracts, brilliant birch and pine trees, Mediterranean landscapes, abstract dancers and soft abstract nudes. Her work can be found in the personal collections of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and former US President George W. Bush, as well as in many private and corporate collections worldwide.
Eventov has witnessed the way the Canadian art market has changed—there’s a great pivot toward original art. “People who collect motivate me to paint,” she says. “The most important thing for me is that people who have seen my work could go into a gallery and know it’s my work.”