Karen Aspden: Outer spice

Art Artwork from Australia. Published by Art Gallery of New South Wales on Thursday 29 May 2014.

Karen Aspden: Outer spice image

Year: 1969

This high-keyed, optically thrilling painting was the first work by Aspden to be acquired by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. In this ‘new abstraction’, concerns of subject and social or geographical context were subsumed by the purist, formal qualities of the work.

It reveals the artist’s genesis in the avant-garde of 1960s Sydney in which a generation of young painters – inspired by contemporary developments abroad, most significantly in the United States – turned to a highly refined and reductive formalism as a new way of thinking about and making art.

While Aspden’s early experimentation in the 1960s with shaped canvases, expanses of uniform colour and hard-edged geometic forms gave way to a freer, more painterly style in the 1970s, some elements of his early hard-edge colour-field phase remained. These included his habit of working on a large scale, his fascination with colour and formal relationships within an image, and his interest in the idea of art as an experience, in which the autonomous object had a direct and active relationship with the viewer.

Media category

Materials used
synthetic polymer paint on canvas

152.4 × 244.0 × 2.8 cm stretcher

Signature & date
Signed and dated c. verso, black fibre-tipped pen “ASPDEN 69”.

Purchased with funds provided by an anonymous purchase fund for contemporary Australian art 1970

Accession number

© Karen Aspden