Raymond John Mead

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Raymond John Mead

1921 - 1998

Raymond John Mead was born in Watford, Hertfordshire, England in 1921. His grandmother was an art collector and she fostered Meadís appreciation of art at an early age. From 1936 to 1939, Mead studied at the Slade School of Art, where he saw the work of prominent English artists of the time. Soon after, Mead joined the Royal Air Force, and trained as a fighter pilot. During this time, he was sent to Hamilton, Ontario, to train RCAF pilots, and also traveled to the United States to train American bomber pilots. Mead returned to Canada in 1946, settling in Hamilton.

Artist Hortense Gordon, who also lived in Hamilton, became a mentor, and she encouraged Mead to meet other artists who, like him, had found work in the advertising world to support themselves while continuing to paint. Beginning in the 1950s, Mead joined several art societies and participated in many group shows. Most notably, his work was included in the 1953 exhibition Abstracts at Home, which was sponsored by Simpsonís Department store in Toronto. This show led to the formation of Painters Eleven, and their first exhibition was at the Roberts Gallery in 1954. Being a part of this group gave Mead the opportunity to exhibit his work with artists participating in similar movements. He was aware of the leading edge developments in American abstraction, as he was a friend of Charles Egan of the Egan Gallery in New York, a showplace for major Abstract Expressionist artists.

As Meadís style evolved from figurative to abstract, his work became characterized by a bold treatment of colour and simple yet sophisticated compositions. His ability to develop colour fields through layers of underpainting was a technique he cultivated throughout his career, and this was demonstrated in the flat planes of colour in his later works. Mead moved to Montreal in 1958, and continued with his commercial work and his painting. His prolific art-making and successful career as an exhibiting artist continued for many years there.