Moncton's Klu'Skap Gallery is staging the first major retrospective of work by New Brunswick Mi'kmaq artist Roger Simon.

Simon's reputation has soared since his tragic death just over a decade ago. His paintings now sell for thousands of dollars and are displayed all over North America and as far away as Russia.

While assembling the exhibit, mostly from private collections, Pascal Pelletier, the art gallery's owner, said he was also gathering stories about Simon from those who knew the artist.

"People from where he comes from in Elsipogtog, they tell me that he was picking up old cardboard boxes and everything to be able to paint over it," Pelletier said.

'We haven't really honoured him properly, so this is a way of honouring him and his spirit and his life's work and sharing.' — Vienna Sanipass, former partner of Roger Simon

Simon tried to paint every day, according to Pelletier.

Friends told the Klu'Skap gallery owner that they always picture Simon at work on a canvas.

"In in a few older canvases, where [times were] more difficult … he was painting on both sides of the canvas," he said.

Simon suffered from severe arthritis and died in 2000 at the age of 46.

His former partner, Vienna Sanipass, is hoping this exhibition acts as both a healing process for his family and an eye-opener for people who appreciate art and may not be familiar with Simon's work.

"We haven't really honoured him properly, so this is a way of honouring him and his spirit and his life's work and sharing," Sanipass said.

The memorial exhibition opens on Thursday at 7 p.m. and will be on display until Feb. 10 at the Klu'Skap Gallery in downtown Moncton.