Denzil Forrester

Born in Grenada in 1956, Denzil Forrester moved to London in 1967. He now lives and works in Cornwall, UK. Forrester received a BA in Fine Art from the Central School of Art, London in 1979 and an MA in Fine Art from the Royal College of Art, London in 1983. He was awarded the decoration of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire or MBE in December 2020. Forrester received the Morley Fellowship from Morley College, London in 2019; a Harkness Fellowship in New York in 1986-88; and a scholarship by the British School at Rome in 1983-85.

Pulsating with rhythm, the artist's expressive depictions of dance halls and clubs capture crowds of people moving in unison with the beat of the music. Flashes of vivid colour, gestural brushstrokes and frenetic compositions characterise his work. Forrester explains: “I just wanted to draw movement, action and expression. I was interested in the energy of the crowd, particular dance movements and what the clubbers wore. In these clubs, city life is recreated in essence: sounds, lights, police sirens, bodies pushing and swaying in a smoke-filled room.” 

Forrester’s work will feature in an exhibition at Tate Britain, London this year, devoted to Caribbean connections in British art since the 1950s. Paintings by the artist were included in a major group show at Hayward Gallery, London in September 2021. Forrester was recently awarded the 2021 South Bank Sky Arts Award for his exhibition ‘Itchin & Scratchin’, presented at Nottingham Contemporary and Spike Island, Bristol in 2020–2021. A large-scale public artwork by Forrester for Brixton Underground Station, London was unveiled by TFL in September 2019.

For Frieze Masters 2020 Stephen Friedman Gallery presented ‘Denzil Forrester in Rome’, a solo project which explored the formative role of Forrester’s fellowship at the British School at Rome from 1983 to 1985. The artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery opened in April 2019, accompanied by a monograph with texts by Peter Doig, Matthew Higgs and Sam Thorne. His work was the focus of three solo shows curated by Peter Doig and Matthew Higgs at White Columns, New York, USA (2016); Tramps, London, UK (2016); and Jackson Foundation, St Just, Cornwall, UK (2018).

Forrester’s works can be found in the collections of Tate, London, UK; Arts Council Collection, UK; Government Art Collection, UK and Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, UK, amongst many others. His work has been exhibited internationally at venues including The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, USA; Tate Britain, London, UK; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK; Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK; Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK; and Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, UK.

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