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January 2, 2015

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Kaffe Fassett: 50 Years in Colour

September 18, 2014

Kaffe Fassett. A wonderful name. A fabulous painter. A designer. A teacher. A source of inspiration. 

Mr. Fassett considers it his mission to “banish the fear of color.” Nothing is safe from his swirling masses or blocks of color:  quilts, rugs, knitwear, fabric, ceramics, needlework, paintings and drawings. He embraces the basic seven design motifs (circle, zig-zag, straight line, crescent, wavy line, spiral, or two half-circles like the letter “S”) and makes them sing.

While in Aberdeen, Scotland, I visited a retrospective exhibition of his work. I was stunned at the vibrancy of the walls, the knitting, the color of the attendees themselves. Men and women of all ages acted as if they were visiting a shrine; a shrine to color.

My eyeballs hurt.  But I couldn’t get enough. 


The colors moved. They reminded me of a Bollywood movie in freeze-frame. The reds against the greens wanted to jiggle and dance. 

In comparison to the textile designs, Fassett’s patterned paintings seemed subdued and elegant. But they too invited a closer look. Like the textiles, the paintings emphasized pattern for the sake of pattern. 

At a time when the world changes so fast and my beloved Scotland in particular, it’s helpful to know that constants remain, such as the joy of color and the human need for creation.

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