David Aspden X 2

Australia’s legendary abstract painter David Aspden is up not once but twice in Sydney, writes Susie Burge

It’s arguably long overdue: a major exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW of the late great David Aspden’s paintings, drawings, collages and prints. It’s a joy to visit: the rooms zing with great blocks and dancing shapes and shifting daubs of colour. The works are taken from the Gallery’s holdings, augmented through generous gifts by Karen Aspden, David’s widow.

The exhibition sings. It entices, seduces, leaves you wanting more. While it’s wonderful to see the range of work Aspden produced – and to follow chronologically the changes from the hard-edged colourfield style of the sixties and early seventies through to a more fluid approach – it also made me think of the works not shown; those magic Aspden paintings hidden away in private and corporate and (in the basement storerooms of?) public collections. As the handsome hardcover catalogue says, “It does not purport to be comprehensive.” That’s one for the future then: we’ll enjoy a Retrospective when it happens. Meanwhile, David Aspden: The Colour of Music and Place is a show to celebrate.

Leaf fall at Sanctuary Point

Coast II

Happily, the AGNSW exhibition is twinned with a commercial show at Utopia Art Sydney (AGNSW show 28 July - 4 September, 2011 and Utopia Art Sydney 30 July - 20 August, 2011). Here, more of Aspden’s major paintings are on view. See the two shows and if you love abstraction as I do, you’ll be well rewarded. If you love and appreciate colour (Aspden is an extraordinarily gifted colourist), do not miss.

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Art history notes: David Aspden sadly passed away in 2005. Although not (yet) a household name, he’s widely regarded as one of the best Australian abstract painters and indeed achieved recognition and even fame during his lifetime. In 1971 he represented Australia (with Gunter Christmann) at the Sao Paulo Biennale, the Venice Biennale of its day, the biggest international art showcase in the world, and won the gold medal. Those jazzy, madly colourful, beautifully painted Brazil canvasses are entirely fresh today. Aspden’s inspirations were music (particularly jazz), landscape (and streetscape and cityscape and waterways), art, and to a lesser extent poetry & literature. And of course life – emotion and energy are always fully present and tangible in his work. So here’s to you David, a toast to a fine man and fine pictures. Cheers.

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Susie Burge, all rights reserved.
© All images by respective holders

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