Ray Mead: Living Within came together quickly as a result of a change in the RMG’s programming schedule. Whenever I go through the racks in the vault, Mead’s work begs for my attention so organizing this exhibition was an incredible pleasure.
Bringing together over thirty works by Mead that range from the 1940s to 1990 has solidified what I’ve always known: Ray Mead is a fabulous painter and a wonderful colourist. While it’s impossible to talk about favourites, I do have works that I’m drawn to more than others. One of these is Door. It’s a large (203 x 173 cm), post painterly oil on canvas work that was painted around 1961. Mead has spoken about his love of black: “black is a delightful colour—it has so many variations.” The blacks in Door have their own tonal variations: deeply saturated in parts, and less so in others. But it’s that orange—just visible beneath the circular element on the left and hugging the centre on the right margin that ties the work together for me.
In writing about Door, Mead says that metaphorically the work “was a door for me to pass into a new era of experimentation.” This fabulous painting has existed for over fifty years and still draws one in towards that new era.
The Robert McLaughlin Gallery