Mario Merola, R.C.A., was born in Montreal, Canada in 1931 to an Italian father and a French-Canadian mother. His mother played the violin, his father the mandolin, and his sister became a career mezzo-soprano.
At the age of fifteen, Mario was admitted to Montreal’s prestigious art school, l’École des beaux-arts de Montréal. There he studied under celebrated Canadian artists Stanley Cosgrove, Maurice Raymond, Jean Simard. After completing five happy years of training, he took first prize in a mural competition held on the theme of Montreal’s history. In 1952, the French government awarded him a grant allowing him to study scenography at l’École supérieure des Arts décoratifs in Paris. While in Europe, he traveled throughout France and northern Italy.
Returning to Montreal, he shared a working studio at Place des Arts with Roland Dinel, Robert Roussil and Armand Vaillancourt. From 1954 to 1957, he designed costumes for the then-budding television industry for La Société Radio-Canada, the francophone wing of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Over this period, he began exhibiting work in artists’ spaces such as La Librairie tranquille and Le Café des artistes.
After 1957 and, over the next two decades, he painted murals, made sculptures and created facades in relief for public spaces in his native Province of Quebec and abroad. In 1959, Mario Merola joined the faculty of Montreal’s fine arts school, l’École des Beaux-arts de Montréal, and ten years later, that of l’Université du Québec à Montréal.
Robert Melançon, Quebec author and poet, writes: “Drawing on his work in various media -- drawing, sculpture, oil and mural painting -- Merola invents form. Willfully running the risks of ongoing research, he produces a plastic art that is notably coherent. It’s highly recognizable, and you know it bears his signature, even before you locate his name on it.”
Solo exhibitions have showcased his drawings and paintings, as well as his work in relief and sculpture. His artworks have been exhibited in Hungary and Italy. They are to be found in New York City, Paris and Japan.
Mario Merola took first prize in a national competition to paint the mural in the Canadian Pavilion of the 1957 Universal Exhibition in Brussels. This undertaking changed the focus of his work.
He is a member of the Canadian Royal Academy of the Arts.