John Meredith

John Meredith, painter (b at Fergus, Ont 24 July 1933; d at Toronto, Ont 9 Sept 2000), brother of William RONALD. John Meredith Smith (known professionally since 1951 as John Meredith), studied at the Ontario College of Art 1950-53, and had his first solo exhibition in 1958.

John Meredith

John Meredith, painter (b at Fergus, Ont 24 July 1933; d at Toronto, Ont 9 Sept 2000), brother of William RONALD. John Meredith Smith (known professionally since 1951 as John Meredith), studied at the Ontario College of Art 1950-53, and had his first solo exhibition in 1958. Meredith's work was informed by a belief in the human presence as the ultimate subject of art; it was based on knowledge gained through experience rather than theory, on instinctive understanding.

In early works (1958-62), abstract vertical stripes, dark and tonal in colour, take on first vegetal and then human connotations, projecting a pervasive sense of primordial mystery. Paintings from the period 1962-66 generally present large-scale images and brilliant colour, often used to optical and psychological effect. Coloured-ink sketches then became the basis for paintings; his work at the same time became increasingly complex, concentrated and obsessive. These exceptional paintings of the later 1960s achieve a forceful presence, not through scale alone but also through an insistent, overall interaction of colour, related and recurring motifs and linear patterning.

Works of the early 1970s frequently evoked the Orient through their titles and subtle asymmetries, but by the 1980s his paintings became simplified, looser and more open. In 1986 the Art Gallery of Peel in Brampton, Ont, held a 30-year survey of his work, and by mid-decade he had turned to spare figure paintings reminiscent of the later de Kooning.


Further Reading

  • M.L. Fleming, John Meredith: Fifteen Years (1974); I.M. Thom, John Meredith: Drawings (1980).