A New View
Eric Atkinson, Alex Cameron, Fred Franzen, Roly Fenwick & Ray Mead
from the collection of the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery
June 1 – 17, 2018
Can the feeling of a place be elicited without direct representation? If we are not shown a place in definitive terms, does that open a passage for our own memories to complete these expressions of landscape? Memory is deeply embedded in landscape. All you need is a feeling…possibly it is the feeling that you have been here before.
Before it can ever be the repose for the senses, landscape is the work of the mind. Its scenery is built up as much from strata of memory as from layers of rock.1
A selection of Ray Mead paintings joins in chorus with the landscapes of Eric Atkinson, Alex Cameron, Fred Franzen, and Roly Fenwick. While Mead abandoned literal representation for abstraction in the late 1940s, he claimed that he always painted landscapes, regardless of their abstract qualities.2 He always kept a notebook for sketching in the landscape, and never gave preference to his works on canvas, as he asserted that drawings to him were finished pieces of art.3 In an interview with Joan Murray, when asked when he knows a painting is finished, Mead stated that it was the reality of the painting and experience of the viewer that brought it to completion: “There is a sense of reality. It’s not just paint, there’s something else to it. Whatever it is, people can put it in themselves because they are discovering – they finish the painting.”4 These works call to us by connecting our memories and experiences to the familiar feelings the paintings invoke.
…the ordinary everyday landscape reflects deeply who we are and is a storehouse of private and collective memories.5
1] Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory (London: HarperCollins Publishers, 1995), 6-7.
2] Joan Murray, Ray Mead: Two Decades (Oshawa: Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 1982), 4.
3] Iris Nowell, P11, Painters Eleven: The Wild Ones of Canadian Art (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2010), 233.
4] Ibid., 234.
5] Ken Taylor, “Landscape and Memory” (presentation, 3rd International Memory of the World Conference, Canberra, Australia, February 19-22, 2008).
Pictured: Ray Mead, Untitled, 1997, watercolour, graphite and pastel on paper, collection of the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery