Red Poinsettia & Red Amaryllis typifies Joseph Plaskett’s love for intense hues. Photo Courtesy of Bau-Xi Gallery
JOSEPH PLASKETT at Bau-Xi Gallery (340 Dundas West), to September 20. 416-977-0600. Rating: NNNN
When I first saw Joseph Plaskett's paintings hanging in a Bau-Xi group show last winter, they stopped me in my tracks. On the surface, they shouldn't have been all that remarkable - they only depicted typical still-life arrays of vases, flowers and tabletops. Yet they showed such mastery of colour and paint that it didn't seem to matter much what they portrayed. Every decade of this 90-year-old BC-born, UK-based painter's expertise shone through.
Given this first encounter, I headed to Plaskett's current solo show at Bau-Xi with great expectations. And as is often the case in solo shows consisting of a large number (here almost 30) of similar works, not all those expectations were met. Several works, like Three Amaryllis, orange-red flower colours popping against a grey background, were in that showstopper category. Others seemed just so-so - or perhaps a bit too derivative of post-Impressionist greats like Van Gogh and Cezanne - by comparison.
Still, as schooling in the continued potential of painting, Plaskett's work is terrific. It's said in beginning art classes that the best still lifes are less about mark-making than they are about seeing.Plaskett's great skill and confidence in seeing - combined with his sense of graphic line and intense colour - make his best works truly a very rare treat.
A couple of large, lovely pastel drawings are also on view. Once best known for such massive pastels, Plaskett can no longer produce them. It's high time a Canadian museum did an updated retrospective (the last one was in 1994, in BC) to bring his best works out of collection vaults for all to enjoy.