Speaking Likeness, A

By (author) Joseph Plaskett
Illustrated by Joseph Plaskett
Categories: Art
Publisher: Ronsdale Press
Hardcover : 9780921870678, 308 pages, September 1999


In this lavishly produced volume, Joseph Plaskett has created a prose "life in art" as colourful and vital as his finest paintings. He begins with his early life in New Westminster, BC, at a time when there were no private galleries.

Lawren Harris and Jock Macdonald were among his early mentors, and they helped him to win the first Emily Carr scholarship, which enabled him to pursue his studies at the San Francisco School of Fine Art and then in New York under Hans Hofmann. After New York, he succeeded Lemoine Fitzgerald as Principal of the Winnipeg School of Art and later taught art at the Banff School of Fine Art.

Throughout A Speaking Likeness Plaskett explores in detail his own journey into Abstractionism and then onwards to new figurative styles that have embraced the sensuous and tactile. He discusses many of his more well known paintings, commenting especially on his use of mirrors and shadows. Colour has always been especially important to Plaskett, and here he examines the creation of his palette and the ways in which "meaning" can be conveyed in colour.

Plaskett’s home at 2 rue Pecquay in Paris has been for many years a central meeting place for Canadian painters and writers travelling on the Continent. His memoirs are packed with stories about the famous people he came to know, such as Jack Yeats, Bill Reid, Jean Paul Lemieux and Mavis Gallant. George Woodcock has kindly contributed an introduction to the volume, one of the last pieces that he wrote. Also included are some 24 full-colour, full-page reproductions of Plaskett’s finest paintings as well as some 80 of his own black and white photos.