Denzil Forrester: Duppy Conqueror
'Duppy Conqueror' explores four themes that evolve throughout Denzil Forrester’s practice, circulating around ideas of ancestry, family, the aura of the reggae club and music scene, and the violence inflicted on Black communities.
This exhibition presents thirty years of Forrester's expressive paintings and drawings. Taking inspiration from London’s dub reggae culture and clubs of the 1980s, Forrester’s working process is analogous to creating versions or reconfigurations of the same music track. Forrester’s numerous sketches from this period, made in the semi-darkness of urban dancehalls, continue to inform his paintings today. References to the diaspora, dub reggae, and the policing of Black cultural expression in Britain reverberate like a refrain throughout his practice. These figures and expressions read like a visual dub mix, echoing one another, and reconstituting themselves while projecting the transformative energy of the music.
Originating in Jamaica at about the time Forrester moved to East London in 1967, dub reggae speaks to his memories of the Caribbean while representing a vibrant cultural community in the UK. 'Duppy', an African word that evokes spirits and ancestors, is related semantically to dub, or the altered recordings of familiar songs made anew. This idea mirrors the dynamic of a music that echoes the past, speaks in the present, and anticipates the future.