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Australian art

Contemporary art

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Black music



David Aspden

Australia, England

01 May 1935 - 26 Jun 2005


Late in his career Aspden reasserted the centrality of colour and music to his work, describing the synaesthetic relationship between them as the core of his practice. He referred to colour in musical terms – harmony, variation and discord – and associated it with nature and landscape:

'What are the colours of music? … I am challenged by the colours that can be found in the air, wind and weather, as well as the more easily recognisable colours in the tangible world of nature.'

In a brief handwritten note about this painting, Aspden asserted that ‘… (it refers) to Australia – to Aboriginal sounds’, although he had no knowledge of Indigenous music as such. Rather, the work should be seen as part of Aspden’s ongoing struggle to respond to place, evident since the early 1980s, when he sought to understand his work and himself as an Australian artist.




Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


150.0 x 244.0 cm stretcher

Signature & date

Signed and dated u.l. corner verso, red fibre-tipped pen "DAVID ASPDEN/ .../ 1995".


D G Wilson Bequest Fund 2004


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

David Aspden

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 5 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2005, Sydney, 2005, 17-18, 63.

John McDonald, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Especially for hue', pg. 28-29, Sydney, 16 Jul 2005-17 Jul 2005, 28, 29.

John McDonald, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Harmonious effects', pg. 14-15, Sydney, 13 Aug 2011-14 Aug 2011, 14. Article appears in 'Spectrum' supplement.

Anne Ryan, David Aspden: the colour of music and place, 'David Aspden: the colour of music and place', pg. 6-11, Sydney, 2011, 9, 10, 64-65 (colour illus.), 83, 89. The reference on pg. 83 is to the related painting 'Seasons of drought'.

Alan Sisley, David Aspden: A celebration of colour, Orange, 2002, (colour illus.). unpaginated