German philosopher Alexander Baumgarten first coined the term “aesthetics” in 1735. It was a response to the question: “what is good art?”, and set out an objective framework for defining art through ideas of “good” and “bad” taste. The Aesthetic Movement soon followed, reaching its peak during the late 19th century. Its focus on beauty paved the way for many modern and contemporary names. One such rising talent is Zimbabwe-born, Barnsley-based artist Jasper Pedyo (b. 1995), whose exhibition Perfect Imperfects has just opened at The Civic, Barnsley. He cites Aestheticism amongst his influences, alongside Pop Art and Minimalism.
The striking mixed media paintings, shown here, demonstrate a strong understanding of colour and form. Large geometric shapes stand out from blank backgrounds: red crosses, yellow circles and black squares seem to jump forwards into space. “The lightbulb moment for me came when I realised that a painting doesn’t need to exist on just one plane,” Pedyo explains. “I love that kind of scale which commands a space or an entire room.”
The Civic is showcasing the artist’s entire body of work, which is intended “to provide viewer with an environment of visual bliss.” Indeed, the precision, balance and pared-back nature of these creations is aesthetically compelling. The eye is drawn towards taut curves and blank canvases — which are stretched drum-tight over complex 3D plywood frames. Reflective pools of high-gloss steel add another layer of intrigue. “A strange thing happens when you look at your own reflection,” Pedyo notes. “It can make you question yourself.”
Other notable influences include the bold colours and patterns of The Memphis Group; the stripped back, light-filled of elements mid-century Scandinavian design and geometric Bauhaus shapes. Above all, Pedyo crafts his pieces to be enjoyed in a moment of contemplation. “The work’s purpose is to be experienced solely with an instinctive and physical response to its structure, colour, and surrounding space,” he says.
20 May – 17 July. Find out more here.
All images courtesy Jasper Pedyo and The Civic, Barnsley.