Joy Laville, a transplanted English artist born on the Isle of Wight in 1924, died last week in Cuernavaca, Morelos, the state she had made her home for more than three decades.
Restless and bored after World War II, Laville moved to Canada and rushed into a mismatched marriage before quickly realizing her error. While living in an isolated part of British Columbia, she began to develop an interest in Mexico after learning about the murals of Diego Rivera and his movement, and reading works such as Malcolm Lowry’s “Under the Volcano.”
In the mid-1950s and divorced from her husband, Laville up and left Canada with her young son to study painting at the Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende. She took classes for two years and continued to live in the town for the following decade as her style developed and her output and reputation as a painter grew. For a few years in the early 1960s, she hooked up with Swiss artist and teacher Roger von Gunten, who became a major influence on her work, she acknowledged in subsequent years.
Her first solo exhibition in Mexico City was held in 1964. Dozens more would follow over the course of her career, in cities such as New York, New Orleans, Dallas, Washington, Toronto, Paris, London and Barcelona.