The great sensuality and sheer inexhaustible power of imagination, the spectrum of YGARTUA’S work between abstraction and figuration–an innovative artist who has the ability to create and work on several different styled paintings simultaneously.

He is exceptionally prolific, from the beginning of his career, he displayed an interest in subject matter of every kind and demonstrates a great stylistic versatility that enables him to work in several mediums and techniques at the same time.

Creation and interpretation is Paul’s life.  In painting he is at home in all mediums and prodigious.  His styles include Realism, Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism, Post Expressionism, Surrealism, Abstract Surrealism and Future Conceptualism, a Revolutionary Technique developed and created by Ygartua.  He is an artist whose versatility is reflected in his work. 

He was born in 1945 in Bebington, Cheshire (Liverpool)England. After graduating from The Faculty of Arts Industrial Design,Liverpool Art College in 1965 he immigrated to Vancouver, Canada. From then on painting became his sole existence. 

Paul Ygartua is a painter and muralist with bases in Canada, France, Spain and England. He has single handedly painted some of the largest public space murals in Canada and the United States. His most famous works are his “Heritage Series” depicting North American Natives (Native Heritage Mural, Chemainus, BC) and other ethnic and cultural groups. He is renowned worldwide for his monumental murals. “The World United ” (100ftx25ft/3,048cmx762cm) being one of his most notorious, commissioned by the United Nations for the United Nations Pavilion at the World Expo 86 Vancouver and his largest to date “Legends of the Millennium”, over 9,000 square foot (24ft x 390ft / 731cm x 11,872cm). 

The American website ASKART considers it probably the largest mural ever painted by a single artist. His most recent mural in 2013, United in History, commemorating the history of Denny Island and The Heiltsuk Nation, Bella Bella – Pauline Hilistis Waterfall and the Hereditary Chiefs of the Heiltsuk Nation, Bella Bella dubbed him The Mural Miracle Maker.



When you are influenced by everything around you, whether it is the people in the world, their culture or nature itself–it is emotional and personal. It is these emotions that one tries to express–an inside view of your thoughts , your feelings and your ideas. I sketched, as a child, with my Mother, who was also a painter. When we returned to the Basque Country, Northern Spain, my Father’s birthplace, for the summer vacations, I used to work alongside her on location. I attended the Liverpool School of Art in England, specializing in Gold and Silversmithing. I took life-study but I didn’t take Painting and it wasn’t until I immigrated to Canada that I changed  direction and started making a living solely from my art in 1970.

My family and I have always travelled extensively and throughout my life I have been influenced by other cultures. My interest, no doubt, comes from my Basque Heritage, the oldest white race of Europe. This influence has also directed me to the varied subject matter I seek out when living in other countries.  In the early 70’s I started painting the North American Native, I found strength and a passion for a race struggling for their identity similar to the Basque People of northern Spain. These influences dominated my work for many years; even today I still feel a need to  create with a passion and strength that captivates our mind and soul. I like to stir one’s emotions, I like my patrons to feel this energy that runs through me.

I search for interesting subject matter that has vibrance and movement; then incorporating this emotion into my subject involves the viewer, transporting one to another world. The challenges of different subject matter are always inspiring and fascinating; I enjoy working straight eight to ten hours, intensely, with high energy; this becomes a real physical workout on my larger works.

I generally work on four feet x four feet paintings and larger. Murals give you a vast expanse, the largest canvaS you can ever hope to get, expanding your perimeters and challenging yourself to the highest limits.

When working freehand with no scale or projector, you must imagine the image, see it in your mind’s eye and envision the painting mural finished. It is an addiction and I can’t wait to start the next painting. It is exciting to challenge oneself with each work, always searching within, this opens new doors, new horizons–it never ends.

It is a passion I feel and it is this emotion that I try to portray in all my works.


Paul Ygartua is a popular Canadian painter, muralist, and draftsman who was born in Bebington, England (a suburb of Liverpool) in 1945 and has lived in Vancouver, Canada since 1966. He also has bases in France and Spain which he visits annually. He has created some of the most recognizable images in Canada and some of the largest murals in the world. His works have been exhibited on every continent except Antarctica, in locations from the Vancouver Art Gallery; to the Grand Palais, Paris, France; to the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. Thousands of his paintings are in private, corporate, and museum collections. (1)

His primary mediums are acrylics on canvas and fresco, although he has also worked in oil, graphite, pen and ink, pastel, poster, lithograph, and mixed mediums. His subjects include landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes, figures, portraits, still life, nudes, social commentary, cultural anthropology, native Indians, and as an abstractionist – shape, color, line, and texture. His styles include Realism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Expressionism, Surrealism and Abstract Surrealism. His most famous works are his “Heritage Series” depicting North American Indians and other ethnic and cultural groups from around the world.

He studied at the Laird School of Art, Birkenhead (1961 – 1962) and is a graduate of the Liverpool School of Art (1963 – 1965) with a degree in Industrial Design (NDD). He turned to painting full time within a few years of arriving in Canada (1966) and has been a full-time painter and muralist since then. He has never taught or worked as a commercial artist, his only occupation and source of income since 1968 has been as a painter of fine art, which is highly unusual in Canada, and he has been doing so successfully for over 50 years. (2)(3)

In addition to his most frequent work locations in Vancouver; Paris, France; and Bilbao and Barcelona, Spain; he has also worked for extended periods on projects in Berlin, Germany (1968); Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (1971, 1999 and 2000); Crete and Corfu, Greece (1972); Gran Canaria, Canary Islands (1973); Scottsdale, Arizona (1976); New Orleans, Louisiana (1978); Jerusalem, Israel (1980); Honolulu, Hawaii (1981 and 1982); Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1984); San Juan, Puerto Rico (1985); Quebec City, Canada (1994); Montreal, Canada (2001); and Sydney, Australia (2002).

His paintings have been exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery (“Spectrum ’68); with the Federation of Canadian Artists (1979, 1981 and 1987); at Expo 86, Vancouver, Canada (1986); the New York Art Expo (1987); the Salon d’Automne at the Grand Palais, Paris, France (1990, 1992, 1994 and 1995); the Canadian Heritage Art Society (1991); the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (1991, 1992 and 1997); the Sala de Cultura, Bilbao, Spain (2003); and at the Firenze Biennale, Florence, Italy (2005).

The locations of some of his largest murals include Waikiki, Hawaii (“Rodeo Club”, 7ft X 25 ft – 1981); Chemainus, B.C. (“Native Heritage”, 25ft X 50ft – 1983 and The Hermit, 8ft X 16ft –  2008 );  Vancouver, B.C. (EXPO ’86 at the United Nations Pavilion “A World United”,  30ft  X 100ft – 1986); Cannes, France (“La Croisette”, 5 Panels – 1995); Oshawa, Ontario (“Oshawa Generals”, 15ft X 35 ft – 1997); Whistler, B.C. (“Totem Village”, 15ft X 25 ft – 2000); Surrey, B.C. (International Beachcomber “Record Breakers”, 30ft X 300 ft – 2000); Ely, Nevada (“United by Our Children”, 30ft X 110 ft –  2001); and, Gorliz, Spain (“Gorliz Gehituz”, 30ft X 92 ft – 2010).

Ygartua’s most recent mural “Bella Bella – United in History” was commissioned by Shearwater Marine Group to commemorate the history of Bella Bella, B.C. The 22′ X 120′ fresco depicts seventeen important individuals that made a significant contribution to the history of Bella Bella since its founding, by the Hudson’s Bay Company, as a trading post in 1833.The mural was entirely drawn and painted by Ygartua, on the side of a World War II airplane hangar on Denny Island, in 20 days (22 May to 10 June 2013). 

In addition to the thousands of works in private and corporate collections, Ygartua’s works are also in the collections of the Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa; Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C.; and the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Alberta.



(1) Please note: All of Ygartua’s murals, regardless of size, were painted solely by Ygartua. His International Beachcomber mural, in Surrey, British Columbia, has an area of 9,000 square feet. Murals listed as the world’s largest, by other artists or cities, range in area size from 346 square feet in Cairo, Egypt, painted by one artist, to 20,000 square feet in Jacksonville, Florida, painted by 12 artists. – M.D. Silverbrooke

(2) Please note: Most sources say Ygartua immigrated to Canada in 1965, we have confirmed with his wife Joanne that the year was 1966. – M.D. Silverbrooke

(3) Please note: The author has researched and written the biographies of over 600 artists who have lived and worked in Canada over the last 200 years and he cannot recall more than a hand-full that thrived solely by creating fine art for an entire career without any other source of income. This is not the story of a starving artist. Ygartua and his wife Joanne, who has always been his manager, have raised a family, sent them to University and travelled the world with them for decades, all supported by his amazing art and genius and by her acumen as an agent. – M.D. Silverbrooke


Sources – Books and Catalogues:

“Ygartua” (2013), edited by Petru Rusu; Masters of Today, London, England (225 pgs., Color)

“Vancouver’s Expo ’86” (2009), by Bill Cotter;  Arcadia Publishing Incorporated,  Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (128 pgs., B&W)

“Beatles Art: Fantastic New Artwork of the Fab Four” (2009), by Jeffrey Webb, Linda Webb; Boxigami Books, Dunlap, Ill. (212 pgs., color)

“Vancouver’s Expo ’86” (2009), by Bill Cotter;  Arcadia Publishing Incorporated,  Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (128 pgs., B&W)

“Nevada Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff” (2008), by Richard Moreno; Globe Pequot Press,  Guilford, Connecticut (256 pgs., B&W)

“Primordial Chaos” (2008), by Carlo Cambi and Flora Rovigo; Biennale Internazionale, Firenze (78 pgs., color)

“Advances in Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research Volume 2” (2008), edited by Arch G. Woodside; Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, UK (392 pgs., B&W)

“Biographical Index of Artists in Canada” (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann; University of Toronto Press, Toronto (250 pgs., Text)

“The Collector’s Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction” (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar; Westbridge Publications Ltd. (4 volumes)

“The Encyclopedia of British Columbia” (2000), edited by Daniel Francis: Harbour Publishing, B.C. (824 pgs., color)

“Canada: Coast to Coast” (1998), edited by Andrew R. Byers; published by Reader’s Digest (400 pgs., color)

“The Chemainus Murals” (1998), by Cynthia Bunbury and Gregg Perry, published by The Chemainus Festival of the Murals Society, Chemainus, B.C. ( 90 pgs., color).

“Sacred Sites of the West: A Guide to Mystical Centers” (1997), edited by Frank Joseph; Hancock House Publishers, Surrey, B.C. (173 pgs., colour)

“Canadian Landmarks and Popular Places” (1991), by Lindor  Reynolds; Whitecap Books Ltd. (192 pgs., color)

“Place Makers: Creating Public Art That Tells You Where You Are” (1987), by Ronald L Fleming and Renata Von Tscharner; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Boston (258 pgs., B&W)

“The Expo Celebration: The Official Retrospective Book” (1986), by Derik Murray; Whitecap Books, 1986 (224 pages, color)

“Spectrum ’68” (1968), by Vancouver Art Gallery; Published by Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.  (12 pgs., all text) – Exhibition catalogue



Sources – Websites and other:

Canadian Heritage Information Network 


British Columbia Artists



“Bulletin: Quarterly of the United Nations Association in Canada” Volumes 12-14, March 1986

Phone interview with Joanne Ygartua (January 2011)

Vancouver Art Gallery library (email)

Carleton University Art Gallery

University of Lethbridge Art Gallery

Simon Fraser University

Researched and written by M.D. Silverbrooke.







1961 – 1962 LAIRD SCHOOL OF ART, Birkenhead, Cheshire, England

Ministry of Education Examinations in Art, Intermediate Examination in Art & Crafts

1963 – 1965 LIVERPOOL ART COLLEGE Faculty of Arts, Industrial Design





YGARTUA.COM (Reference Site)