Held on Zoom on 13 May 2020, the CAS hosted a live studio visit with Denzil Forrester at his Cornwall studio, followed by an in-conversation between the artist and CAS Director Caroline Douglas. Denzil showed us some of his most recent work and gave an insight into his exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary, which is temporarily closed due to the current crisis before it moves to Spike Island later in the year. He also discussed his experience of living and working in Cornwall, the reggae scene of London in the 80s which has inspired so much of his work, and his major commission for Art on the Underground at Brixton Station.
“I first saw Denzil’s paintings at his Royal College of Art degree show in 1983. It was thrilling and unusual to see depictions of East London’s Blues and Dub clubs painted in such a dynamic way. I was humbled and in awe of the ambition and realness of these vital, imposing works.
Denzil’s work stood out because it portrayed a world that was scarcely pictured in the fine arts, one that was known to me through music, and one that captured the impact that artists and dub poets such as Linton Kwesi Johnson were having at the time.
I believe Denzil is one of the most important painters to come out of London in the early ‘80s and his early works remain as relevant and vital today as when they were first made. However, a revelation for me has been seeing the recent work coming out of Denzil’s studio in Cornwall. It has a subtlety and form that has perhaps come about because he is reflecting upon his past. They are dreamlike and emerge as much from his imagination as from his studies of real life.”
Peter Doig, 2019