Tribute to Canadian Artist and Painter Joseph Plaskett

Recently I had the good fortune to see an exhibition of Joseph Plaskett’s most recent paintings at the Winchester Gallery in Oak Bay, Victoria B.C. The date on many of the paintings is clearly marked as 2011, a practice we do not often see on the front of a painting anymore. The wisdom is that it may impact its saleability if the painting has not sold for a few years. But in this case, my mouth dropped when I realized that the exhibition was  celebrating Joseph Plaskett’s 95th birthday year. He was 93 years old when he painted many of the paintings in the exhibition and by my observation may be some of his best work in a long life of painting.

Here is a quote from the artist that is posted on the Winchester Gallery page:

“The work I have produced in a long life has always been in constant change.  What I show this year at Winchester Galleries is, I like to think, only the beginning of another change which now becomes more obvious with each canvas, but will not reach the public exposure for a few more years.  This present show was chosen months ago. The changes have become more drastic.  There is, I like to think, a complexity and a daring to experiment with both colour and composition.  Only one canvas goes back more than a few years.  It is a large still life which I have been refusing to put on the market, wanting to keep it in my possession as long as I survive.  It is a brilliant example of an earlier and safer act of creation.  But now I am producing work that is the beginning of something more complex and dangerous.  I am taking risks, letting myself go.

I like to think I am not repeating myself.  I am influenced by much of what I see in contemporary art.  I will give one example.  Two years ago I was excited by the huge exhibition of the work of Peter Doig which I saw in both the Tate in London and in Paris.  It made me proud to think of him as a “Canadian” painter, as, though born in Scotland, he spent much of his childhood and early youth in Canada.  I can only envy the originality of his work.  My work is changing, but it is still a way of painting that is my own.”

reference: (first painting shown on the Gallery’s page of the artist’s work is one of my favourites.

The photograph of the work I am sharing here is from the BAU XI Gallery in Toronto website. The title of the painting is “Still Life with Apples (2)” 38 x 45 inch oil on canvas listing at $21,800.


Joseph Plaskett is considered to be one of Canada’s most talented and established painters. In the spring of 2001, he was awarded The Order of Canada for excellence in the field of visual art. Since the 1940’s, he has had over 65 solo and group exhibitions, with work in major public, private and corporate collections, including the National Gallery of Canada. He has exhibited with the Bau-Xi Gallery, both in Vancouver and Toronto, since 1973.

Born in 1918 in New Westminster, B.C., Plaskett studied art in Banff, San Francisco, New York, London and Paris. He has lived in Paris since 1951, and more recently in England. His chosen subjects have always been intimate expressions of everyday life – interiors, still life, and portraits of friends and models. There is a warm humanity to his work, a love of light and form and colour that is evident in every painting he produces. The works are composed with such superb quality of painting that the ensuing results are masterworks of visual delight.
(the several web pages of Joseph Plaskett’s paintings on this Gallery site are actually very easy to view)

Joseph (Joe) Plaskett studied with many prominent Canadian painters like A.Y. Jackson, Jack Shadbolt, Lawren Harris and Jock Macdonald. Joe Plaskett was a pupil of Hans Hofmann in New York and Provincetown in 1947[1] and 1948.

In 1950, he arrived in Paris where he studied with Fernand Léger, and Jean Lombard, etching and engraving with Stanley William Hayter. He taught intermittently in Canada until 1957. After that date he settled definitely in Paris where his studio became an informal salon for Canadian painters, writers, poets and filmmakers, interfacing with artists from other countries.

I hope you have as much fun poking around and exploring his work as I have done over the past couple of weeks.

May at least some of us still be painting some of our best work this late in a long life of painting. As an update, I did hear from the staff at the gallery that he is now no longer able to paint and is quite frail but still – what a painting adventure to still be painting quality work at 93 years old!

How might you want to be celebrating your 95th birthday year?


© 2013 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

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4 thoughts on “Tribute to Canadian Artist and Painter Joseph Plaskett

  1. My Aunt who died recently had a Joseph Plaskett painting in her collection in New York City. She spent her last years in Oak Bay Victoria, BC. She was a great collector of Canadian Artist’s work and her apartment was full of their works.

    It is lovely to learn more Thank you for sharing.

  2. Terrill – Joseph Plaskett is new to me, THANK YOU for the wonderful introduction!

    You asked, “How might you want to be celebrating your 95th birthday year?”

    Here’s what I’d like said, “Although 95 year old Laurie still likes a good battle, she’s also grace under fire and embraces poise as her mainstay in life.”

    • Laurie I can see this being just perfect for you at any age but particularly at a grand 95 years old. To be honest I didn’t know Joseph Plaskett’s work until I saw it at the Winchester Gallery. I was suitably impressed though and have been scouting around for bits and pieces of information every since.

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