At the end of his 80th year and with solo shows in Vancouver and Toronto dating back to 1955, Richmond artist Peter Aspell continues to strike out for new territory with this series of energetic paintings.
As Michael Scott once wrote, Aspell's colours "flare out of the canvases, pure as gemstones". The electricity of his colours results from the strata of built-up oil paint that is as much his stylistic hallmark as his expressionistic figuration. Containing a myriad of art historical references to the work of 20th Century painters and sculptors, Aspell's imagery alludes to Miro's mobiles, to Futurism, Synthetic Cubism, Van Gogh's palette (stacked like a colour scale), Duchamp's pipe and Toulouse Lautrec's posters.
Aspell addresses the creative repression of contemporary artists by demonstrating the confidence and potency to reject what he perceives to be the creative constraints of late-20th Century academic theories. "Down with the culture machine", reads one painting: soul not brain and painting is being destroyed. In the wings are the "serious" spectacled and suited academics and critics, their mouths dropped open in shock and indignation at the colourfully dressed palette-headed artists.
His latest works go even further to take on a propagandist edge. In them, he uses passages of text or images of factories, smoke and machines to link and portray the human figure as inseparable in identity from industrialization and technology. These paintings are direct social commentaries with no holds barred.
© Mia Johnson