We expressed our sadness in our last issue at the loss to the Canadian art world of two prominent artists in December, 2004, Agnes Martin (1912-2004) and Edmund Alleyn (1931-2004). That same month saw the passing of another great Canadian painter, Peter Noel Lawson Aspell CPG, BCSA (1918-2004).
Peter Aspell was born in Vancouver in 1918, and had his first formal training at the Vancouver School of Art from 1937-1941, under Charles H. Scott. He later studied at the Academie de Ghent, Belgium, and taught at the University of British Columbia. In the early part of his career he was recognized as a figurative painter, and it was upon this style that he founded his own art school in the 1970s. However, by the late 1970s his style changed. It was heavily influenced by Surrealism and became more abstract, more colourful and more adventurous.
Over the next 20 years or so he worked with several themes including African and West Coast native art, as his art developed, matured and flourished. With this maturity came public and market attention and shows in Vancouver, Toronto and New York. Despite all this exposure in the latter part of his career, however, Peter was still little known outside a fairly close-knit collecting fraternity.
Peter Aspell was a soft and quiet giant within the Canadian art market and, while his work will continue to inspire and excite, he will be sadly missed.
The following is the entry for Peter Aspell in The Collector’s Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction, Volume One: A-F:
ASPELL, Peter Noel Lawson CPG, BCSA (1918- ). Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Aspell studied at the Vancouver School of Art under Charles H. Scott. He travelled to Europe on an Emily Carr Scholarship (1948-49), and studied at the Ghent Academy, Belgium. A portrait and figure painter in his early career, he turned to a more abstract, Surrealist style in the late 1970s, often reminiscent of the `Cobra’ movement out of New York. He taught at the Vancouver School of Art (1948-70), and the University of British Columbia (1965), before opening his own school (1970-78). He is represented in the NGC and VAG.
Last year also saw the passing of several other well-known Canadian artists. We pay tribute here to three of them, John Snow (1911-2004), Harry Heine (1928-2004) and Louis Perron (1919-2004) by referencing their entries in The Collector’s Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction.
SNOW, John Harold Thomas RCA, ASA, CSGA (1911-2004). Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Snow studied life drawing evenings under Maxwell Bates at the Alberta College of Art, Calgary (1947-1949); and lithography at the University of Washington, Seattle (1953, 1954), but is otherwise self-taught. Known mainly as a printmaker working in woodblock, colour lithography, silkscreen, etching, acquatint, and linocuts, his subjects include figure studies, the Alberta prairie and foothills landscape, still life, and cityscapes. He also works in oil, watercolour and acrylic, as well as cement and wire sculptures. He worked for the Royal Bank of Canada (1928-1971), received a Canada Council award in 1966, and remains active in Calgary, Alberta. He is a Fellow of the International Institute of Arts and Letters, Switzerland. He held solo exhibitions of his work at the MAG in 1974, and EAG in 1989, and exhibited with the RCA in 1966-1970, and the MMFA in 1956-1962. His work is in the collections of the AAF, AGO, CCAB, EAG, LAG, NGC, ROM, VAG, VAM and WAG.
HEINE, Harry CSMA, SFCA, RSMA (1928-2004). Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Heine studied art by correspondence. After working as a commercial artist specialising in architectural rendering and design, he moved to Vancouver Island in 1970. Working mainly in watercolour but also in oil and acrylic, he is best known as a marine artist painting coastal scenes and boats along the west coast of Canada and the United States. He is a founding member of the Canadian Society of Marine Artists. He has also painted in Spain (1997), Italy and China where he has led painting tours. He is the father of Caren Heine. His work is in the collection of the MAG, the Captain Cook Museum, England and the National Maritime Museum, England.
PERRON, Louis Paul (1919-2004). Born in Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec, Perron studied with Adrien Hébert and Alfred Laliberté at the Monument National (1935); with Joseph St. Charles at l’École des Beaux-Arts, Montreal; with Walter Milhouse in London; and New York City with Pierre Bourdelle. Working mainly in oil and pastel, as well as monotypes and engravings, his subjects include the Quebec landscape and village scenes as well as portraits and female nudes. He developed a style called ‘Mouvementisme’ which uses short, colourful strokes on a black background to depict snow, trees and clouds. He is also known for his religious murals and for restoring many church paintings.