Artwork by Joseph Francis Plaskett,  Polar Coordinates: Iain

Joseph Plaskett
Polar Coordinates: Iain

oil on canvas
signed and dated 1980 lower right
45.5 x 35 ins ( 115.6 x 88.9 cms )

Price Realized $3,500.00
Sale date: July 5th 2017

Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver
Private Collection
Joseph Plaskett, A Speaking Likeness, Toronto, 1999, pages 181-3 and 252-3
An interesting example of the artists work, “Polar Coordinates” portrays Plaskett's fellow artist and friend Iain Baxter in a seated repose in front of a mirror. The two had met while being represented at the New Design Gallery in Vancouver during the late 1950s. Arranged as a classical still life with strewn fruits, Polaroids and objects of the everyday, each component of the painting is given equal weight of importance by the artist. As the sitter gazes away from the viewer, he is not the central focus of the work, necessarily, commanding attention away from the surrounding elements of the work. Rather, Plaskett has blended Baxter into the environment he inhabits, transforming the traditional role of the sitter as the central singularly important subject of the composition to an equal player in his environment.

Importantly, Plaskett's love and fascination of mirror's plays a role in this work. The artists explains: “The mirror world, unlike the sensible world facing it cannot be touched. It is an etherial place- no sound, no taste, smell or texture...There is no mind behind this glass artifact except that of the viewer, whose face tells little more about himself than he already knows.” Similar to how the artist deconstructs the mythological intrinsic greatness of a sitter for a portrait, the mirror's use as an artistic mechanism echoes this sentiment. Rather than portray reality, the mirror is in fact a facsimile of reality; an illusion of the space and time it reflects. Plaskett continues, explaining the process behind his portrait works: “I am not actually a portrait artist per se. As my interest is less in making a portrait than a painting, I do not seek out portrait commissions where it is difficult to indulge whims and desires or follow the logic of painterly impulse. This is why I prefer portraying friends, or myself, where every impulse may have free rein.”

Share this item with your friends

Joseph Francis Plaskett
(1918 - 2014) RCA, Order of Canada

Joseph Plaskett is a painter known for his colourful palette, light-drenched still-lifes and portraits. He exhibits his pastels and canvases, which he describes as searches for "meaning" in colour, in both international and Canadian galleries. Plaskett was born in 1918 in New Westminster, BC. After graduating from UBC, he taught History in schools for six years while attending the Vancouver School of Art at night. He studied in Banff, San Francisco, New York, London, and Paris before moving to Paris in 1951. The romance of Paris and its society nurtured him. He painted still lifes, intimate interiors, and portraits of friends in his space. "Everything can happen within the space of a room" the artist once said. He spends part of the year in England and continues to paint his chosen subjects. As the art critic Michael Scott writes: "What hasn't changed is Plaskett's remarkable assurance with paint. He may be deconstructing his still lifes, but the superb quality of painting is the same. Surfaces are built of layers of pigment, smooth skins of colour glowing from beneath. And where Plaskett pulls away the surface colour saturated corals, pungent mauves, lime greens, bursts of lemon show through." His works are in public art gallery collections from Prince Edward Island to Vancouver Island, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Plaskett received the Order of Canada in the spring of 2001 for excellence in the field of visual art.