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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Sketch portrait of David Aspden

1975
Fred Williams

oil on canvas (frame: 109.5 cm x 94.7 cm, support: 106.7 cm x 91.5 cm)

David Aspden (1935-2005), artist, came to Australia from England in 1950. After working for twelve years as a painter and signwriter in Port Kembla, he moved to Sydney, where he had his first solo exhibition at Watters Gallery in 1965. With two more solo shows soon after, Aspden found himself a frontrunner amongst Australia’s formal colour abstractionists; two of his works were included in the seminal National Gallery of Victoria exhibition 'The field' in 1968. The use of colour that the self-taught artist refined in the 1960s became the hallmark of his painting over the ensuing decades. As early as 1970 he was described as ‘Australia’s leading colour-painter’ and in 1971 he was awarded a gold medal at the Sao Paulo biennale. Increasingly, over some time, the hard edges of his interlocking colour blocks softened under the influence of landscape, nature and music. He exhibited in sixteen Wynne Prize exhibitions between 1977 and 1998, winning in 1995. He is represented in the National Gallery, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Queensland Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. A retrospective, David Aspden: The colour of music and place showed at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2011.

Fred Williams (1927–1982) and his wife Lyn played hosts to David Aspden and his family while they were in Melbourne for an exhibition of Aspden’s work. Fred Williams painted Aspden’s portrait in a single morning, and made no changes later. Patrick McCaughey writes that like Williams’s other portraits, it was more a gesture of friendship than a work destined for exhibition. Yet, he asserts, the ‘direct and unselfconscious ease of David Aspden makes it one of the small masterpieces of Williams’s informal portraiture’.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Lyn Williams AM 2011
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Fred Williams

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Fred Williams (age 48 in 1975)

David Aspden (age 40 in 1975)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Lyn Williams (4 portraits)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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