If you are in Kingston, Jamaica this weekend, I urge you to go see the renowned artist Denzil Forrester, known for his paintings of the London 1980’s reggae club scene. He is in Jamaica this week, making new work in the dancehalls and dub session spaces throughout Kingston. This journey is being filmed by Professor Julian Henriques, who is directing a short documentary of Denzil at work in Kingston.
From Friday the 15th to Sunday the 17th of February, Denzil will give talks, hold an artist workshop as well as a public viewing of his works which will be showcased at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Additionally, Denzil and Julian will both participate in the 6th Global Reggae Conference at The University of the West Indies (UWI Mona) on Sunday.
You can also see the finished work in London at 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning (CAL) this coming summer together with the documentary.
Julian and Denzil met for the first time in the 1980’s while Julian was preparing for his feature film Babymother. He bought one of Denzil’s paintings which has hung in our homes for three decades! This painting revels in the energy and expressions of the people moving to the rhythm of music in the enclosed space of a dancehall in London.
Denzil Forrester, born in Grenada in 1956, has lived in London since 1967. Over the decades, this extraordinary artist has used his canvas to portray the racial and social injustices experienced by the Afro-Caribbean community in 80’s London. Forrester explains:
‘I just wanted to draw movement, action and expression. I was interested in the energy of the crowd, particular dance movements and what the clubbers wore. In these clubs, city life is recreated in essence: sounds, lights, police sirens, bodies pushing and swaying in a smoke-filled room.’ Stephen Freedman Gallery.
I am thrilled that his work is finally being recognised with retrospectives in London and New York. Above all, I am happy that he has finally made it to Jamaica!