Denzil Forrester Study Day and In Conversation

Denzil Forrester

A collaboration between Art on the Underground and Iniva
15 January 2020

Part of the following series:

2019 – On Edge

Brixton Header Wall

Red Room and Banqueting Suite
Chelsea College of Arts
45 Millbank

Study Day | 12:30 – 17:30
Red Room, Chelsea College of Arts
Tickets: £5 including lunch |
Limited capacity and booking essential

In Conversation: Denzil Forrester and Kimathi Donkor
18:00 – 19:00
Banqueting Suite, Chelsea College of Arts
Free: booking recommended

For nearly four decades, Denzil Forrester has evolved as a painter who experiments with light, colour and gesture, creating works that are rooted in the physicality and emotional resonance of lived experience, and which seek to evoke a sense of time, place and community.

In September 2019 Art on the Underground invited Forrester to create his first major public commission for Brixton Station. For this Forrester reinterpreted his seminal work ‘Three Wicked Men’ (1982), now in the Tate collection, into an immersive, large-scale painting.

Forrester’s vibrant paintings from the early 1980s made visible what might otherwise have remained fleeting or hidden, as he documented London’s underground reggae and dub scene. Drawings he made in situ in East London nightclubs nearly forty years ago still form the basis of some of his paintings today, and Forrester often returns to memories and experiences through subjects that endure across time. The death of his friend Winston Rose in police custody in 1981 has remained with him and become a haunting presence in a number of works. More recently he has begun to look back to an earlier time, in paintings that depict his childhood in Grenada and his early days in London helping his mother sew bags in the basement of their Stoke Newington home.

This Study Day, a partnership between Art on the Underground and Iniva, aims to generate new readings of Denzil Forrester’s work, invite personal responses and inspire continuing dialogue.

Speakers include: Alvaro Barrington, artist; Osei Bonsu, Curator of International Art – Africa, Tate Modern, London; Eddie Chambers, Professor of Art History at the University of Texas, Austin; and John Lyons, poet and artist.

The day will include a screening of ‘Denzil’s Dance’ by Professor Julian Henriques, Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London, which captures Forrester sketching in the dancehalls of Kingston, Jamaica during a recent trip. There will also be a chance to look at materials held on Forrester in the Stuart Hall Library and a unique opportunity to view drawings by the artist on loan from Stephen Friedman Gallery.

The day will conclude with an ‘in conversation’ between Denzil Forrester and Dr Kimathi Donkor, artist and Course Leader BA Fine Art Painting, Camberwell College of Arts. Both artists work primarily in paint, creating figurative works which are often on a large scale, while drawing also forms an important part of their respective practices. A commitment to teaching has played a central role for both artists: Forrester taught at Morley College for 30 years, while in addition to his Fine Art teaching Donkor has led a number of education projects in community settings.

Denzil’s Forrester’s recent commission for Art on the Underground, ‘Brixton Blue’, is currently on view at Brixton Station and a new solo show opens at Nottingham Contemporary in February 2020. He is represented by Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

‘Denzil’s Dance’ was produced by Sound System Outernational, 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning and Suzie Wong Presents 2019.

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