David Aspden (1935-2005) Giant Steps I, 1975

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Lot 7
David Aspden
(1935-2005)
Giant Steps I, 1975

Sold for AU$ 26,840 (US$ 18,535) inc. premium
David Aspden (1935-2005)
Giant Steps I, 1975
inscribed 'Jazz Series, Aspden' verso
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
156.0 x 304.5cm (61 7/16 x 119 7/8in).

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE
    Collection of the artist
    Private collection, Perth, acquired from the above in 2004

    RELATED WORK
    Giant Steps II (Black Jazz), 1975, included in David Aspden: Jazz, Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne, 8 - 31 July 2004


    The 1970s were a high point in David Aspden's career, a time during which he brought together many of the technical and stylistic experiments conducted over the preceding decade. During this time Aspden was awarded several significant art prizes and participated in many prestigious exhibitions. These awards included a Gold Medal at the XI Biennale, Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1971; the Gold Coast City Art Prize in 1972 and the Travelodge Art Prize in 1973. He also participated in the international touring exhibition Ten Australians in 1975.

    At the time of producing Giant Steps I Aspden was living at a disused market garden in Castle Hill, an outlying suburb of Sydney that was rapidly being colonised by suburbia. While inhabiting the property Aspden produced paintings inside the dilapidated house, in an adjoining shed and even painted outdoors utilising an old paling fence as a support for his work. The farm had become his studio.

    As a result of his close contact with nature Aspden studied the seasons and the passing of the sun as well as the moon and the stars, and it was these natural influences combined with his love of jazz that shaped his Giant Steps Series. During this time Aspden's work became increasingly monochromatic as he synthesised, or as he liked to say "fine-tuned" his paintings.

    The title Giant Steps I was borrowed from a John Coltrane album released by Atlantic Records in 1960. Aspden played Coltrane's album while painting - absorbing, translating and transcribing the almost monotone melodic phrasing of the music onto large swathes of unstretched and unprimed cotton duck. As is the case with improvised jazz compositions, Aspden never pre-planned his paintings. They evolved as a consequence of a burst of energy, a performance capturing the artist's spontaneous rhythmical gestures.

    From a stylistic point of view Giant Steps I is a consequence of Aspden's distillation of two of the most significant artistic styles of mid-twentieth century abstraction, namely hard-edge and colour field painting. By limiting his palette to a series of tonal variations of red, orange and brown, Aspden creates a dynamic yet unified spatial field where flat jagged areas of colour outlined by a combination of hard edges and soft feathery margins jostle for space.

    From an art historical perspective Aspden's colour-paintings reached a level of formal sophistication and conceptual resolve unmatched by any other Australian artist. On an international level works such as Giant Steps I belong in the company of a select group of painters such as Clyfford Still and Helen Frankenthaler, whose works represent the pinnacle of colour field painting.

    Dr Christine Dean
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