Across four decades, Denzil Forrester’s work has explored ways of seeing sound and capturing the energy of the nightclub.
A major new solo exhibition by Forrester will coincide with Spike Island’s galleries reopening to the public this autumn, featuring work spanning more than 40 years.
Paintings and recent drawings by the Grenada-born, British artist promise to be “pulsing with music and motion, these works depict scenes that are by turns intimate and ecstatic; singular records of Afro-Caribbean experience in Britain.”
The exhibition will feature works that capture the vibrant energy of the dimly lit dancehalls of 1980s London and the present-day open-air clubs of Jamaica.
From the late 1970s, Forrester was a regular at the dub-reggae clubs of east London. There he began to make drawings of MCs and dancers, sound systems and strobes.
On dark dancefloors, he would sketch quickly, for the time it took the DJ to play a single track; and later transform these sketches into large-scale paintings capturing rhythm, ambience and movement.
“When you’re an artist in a public arena, you have to be dynamic,” Forrester told Frieze. “I wasn’t interested in just drawing an individual standing in front of me; I was interested in capturing the energy of the whole room.”
Denzil Forrester’s exhibition at Spike Island opens on October 17. For more information, visit www.spikeisland.org.uk/programme/exhibitions/denzil-forrester.
Main image: Denzil Forrester, Dub Dance (1993) Oil on board. Copyright Denzil Forrester. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London