Kitchen at Decizes (2) (1979),
pastel on paper
Joseph Plaskett, an outstanding Canadian artist, celebrates his 80th birthday this year. Though well-established as a major oil painter, Plaskett has, since early in his career, used pastels on colored papers - greens, grey, blues or terra cotta - to document the world around him. Many pictures were used as preparations for larger paintings, while others are exquisite works of art in themselves.
The current exhibition of pastel drawings and oils on canvas was selected from four decades of work. In an artist's statement, Plaskett describes these works as "carefree records of excitement when confronted with vivid places, persons and things". The majority of images represent the views and contents of everyday life at his homes in Paris and Suffolk.
Sensuous, complex and suffused with light, the drawings in this selection have been conceived in the finest classical tradition of pastels. His gestures are loose but attentive. It appears as if a magic wand was slowly waved across a wealth of visual complexity, capturing the essence of the forms and accentuating the flow of highlights. Plaskett's achievement is that the drawings undoubtedly represent the better of the two realities.
© Mia Johnson