Thursday 6 February, 2020

Talk Art, Denzil Forrester

Robert & Russell meet legendary British artist Denzil Forrester. We discuss 40 years of painting, his childhood in Grenada, the impact of moving to London in 1967 aged 11, his memories of making drawings in London's dub & reggae nightclubs of the late 1970s-80s, his admiration for Jah Shaka's sound system and the drive to create paintings that documented the club scene he cherished. We learn about racially-motivated arrests of the time including Forrester's own unjust arrest as a student followed by the death of Winston Rose a few years later, a friend of Forrester’s who died while under police restraint. Forrester went on to pay tribute to Rose in a number of iconic paintings including 'Three Wicked Men' (1981), now part of Tate museum's collection, and in a recent large-scale public mural for Art on the Underground titled 'Brixton Blue' (2019). Reflective of the contemporary black experience and the racial tensions of the 1980s, the mural straddles Brixton station's entrance and depicts a Brixton street scene with the figures of a truncheon-wielding policeman, a Rastafarian ‘businessman’ holding a portable sound system and a besuited politician. We also hear how curator Matthew Higgs of White Columns, New York and fellow painter Peter Doig & TRAMPS gallery helped shine a spotlight on Forrester's paintings for a new generation.

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