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September 24, 2007 | by  | in Visual Arts | [ssba]

Julian Daspher

Recently after a long production night at Salient (and I mean late), I was feeling jaded from helping compile the VUWSA election handout and crawled along to Hamish McKay gallery feeling sick as a dog. Afterwards I came out feeling energised; the reason for my change in energy levels came from sitting down for a chat with Julian Daspher who was exhibiting with Don Driver.

Sadly Driver was unable to attend as Daspher explained, “he’s elderly, he’s in his late 70s and not really up to travel especially coming out at night.” The night was special in that both artists work were on show with common linkages ranging from the sense of assemblage and formalism, illuminating in the playful nature of both artists.

Don Driver was born in 1930 in Hastings and grew up in New Plymouth where he still lives today. Originally off the beaten track in terms of the art world he has explored the key elements of art itself. Through an interest in the production of ordinary everyday objects, such as signs and symbols he contemplates colour, shape, form, composition and arrangement.

These are concepts that the following generation of artists including Julian Daspher share. When I asked him what the works on display represented for him he described them as, “a continuing of my ongoing interest in conceptualism, minimalism, reductive art, geometry and abstraction.”

Daspher himself was born in Auckland 30 years after Driver and whereas Driver had no formal education, Daspher graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Daspher likes to live and express himself through his art. For instance when I asked him what medium he uses he emphasised that he doesn’t “wake up in the morning and make a painting. What I do is make an artwork and if it happens to end up as a painting then so be it, that’s the difference.” An artist based around the ideas that come to him, he believes that the medium comes after the ideas.

A lot of you may not have heard of Julian Dashper and don’t watch Artsville on Sunday nights or read White Fungus magazine. You might however have noticed one of his drum kits in the front window of the Adam Art Gallery recently.

That was part of the Four Times Painting exhibition that ran in June and July, which also featured Shane Cotton, Simon Ingram and Isobel Thom. Daspher’s drum kit was the one that had yellow paint splashed on it and was Untitled (the painter’s mistake) 2007 which is pretty recent. It was as though the artist had intruded on the musician’s world. As Daspher liked to point out, playfulness is important in the works showing at Hamish McKay Gallery at the moment.

A case in point was when Daspher went on to talk about two works, Driver’s Guaranteed Genuine Like 1979 and his own Untitled (painting in a bottle) 2006. I asked him where that was and he pointed at the window sill. Sitting precariously was a green wine bottle with a painting inside it, waiting for a clumsy person like myself to knock it off… The works of Driver that really impressed me were his assemblage of verandas; you know, the kitsch green ones with red and white stripes. I definitely know the ones as my mother got rid of one from her front deck a few years ago and replaced it with the usual bland Chinese import from The Warehouse. A big one called Large Stripe 1977, hangs in the front area taking up an entire wall.

Knowing that it is almost 30 years on from when Daspher first started out himself in the art world I asked him if he had any final words for any budding artists out there and he said, “Julian Daspher encourages people to follow their dreams, follow your dreams, work hard, study hard, save your pennies, no follow your dreams…”


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