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Dub Transition - Denzil Forrester catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1990
Published by: Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston
Year published: 1990
Number of pages: 24
ISBN: 1 871575 03 6

image of Dub Transition - Denzil Forrester catalogue

Catalogue for major exhibition of the paintings executed by Denzil Forrester, between 1980 and 1990. The exhibition was organised by the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, where it was shown 22 September - 3 November 1990, before touring to Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, 14 February - 14 April 1991 and Usher Gallery, Lincoln, 29 June - 28 July 1991.

On account of the distint resonances of reggae and dub music (and the environments in which Black people gathered to listen to and enjoy such music) in Forrester’s work, the exhibition’s leading title was Dub Transition. Indeed, the important accompanying catalogue missed few opportunities to stress the association, beginning with the “Acknowledements” by Alexandra Walker, Acting Museum and Art Officer. Wrote Walker, “Denzil would like to thank Jah Shaka and his posse for firing his imagination and inspiring so much of his work.” The association with music continued with “Denzil Forrester: An appreciation” by Forrester’s professor of painting during his time at the Royal College of Art in the early 1980s, Peter de Francia. de Francia’s text included “His paintings were, in a sense. a homage to creative survival. His pictures of the interior of clubs and dance halls, of figures in lonely streets, in one case that of a solitary West Indian escorted by two policement, were in no sense topographical nor linked to a kind of familiar reportage.” The association with music and its attendant culture was further reinforced with a poem by Liverpool-born and based Levi Tafari, “Blues Dance Suffererers Style”

Within this catalogue, John Lyons provided a very valuable essay, “Denzil Forrester’s Art in Context” which hinted at the profound changes that the profile of Black artists in Britain went through, between the early 1970s and the early 1980s. Lyons did so by contrasting the impulses, sensibilities and activities of London-based Caribbean-born artists and intellectuals who created mechanisms of mutual support, from the mid 1960s to the early 1970s, with an altogether different body of practitioners (of which Forrester can be included) that emerged in the early 1980s. Making mention of an importance exhibition of work by Caribbean artists in England, held at the Commonwealth Institute in 1971, Lyons contrasted the exhibition with a markedly different type of Black artists’ practice, a decade or so later.

“Caribbean artists and writers like the Barbadian poet, Edward Kamau Brathwaite, the Jamaican novelist Andrew Salkey and John La Rose, the Trinidadian activist and poet, came together in 1966 to form the Caribbean Artists Movement. It was a coterie which, in the fostering of mutual respect and support, created confidence by maintaining cultural identity in a Eurocentric milieu fraught with numerous dangers of misappropriation. It also attempted to establish for Caribbean peoples in Britain a point of cultural reference. The Caribbean Artists Movement brought together a group of artists in an exhibition ‘Caribbean Artists in England’ mounted in the Commonwealth Institute Gallery in 1971… What started in 1971, significantly in the Commonwealth Institute Gallery, as relatively benign self-assertion was, within a decade, superseded by exhibitions of works of a politically rhetorical character by young Black artists of the generation born in England as British citizens. Unlike their parents and grandparents, whose illusion of England as the mother country was shattered by the stark realities of racism, these young Black-British artists had the right by birth to claim England as their home.”

Catalogue contents as follows:

Photographic portrait of the artist

Portrait of the artist
“Acknowledgements”, Alexandra Walker, Acting Museum and Art Officer
“Denzil Forrester: An appreciation”, Peter de Francia
Poem, “Blues Dance Sufferers Style”, Levi Tafari
“Denzil Forrester: A biography”, substantial introdction to the artist, no writer credited
“Denzil Forrester’s Art in Context”, John Lyons
“Denzil Forrester” CV

Six colour plates of Forrester’s paintings intersperse the various texts.


Related people

»  Peter de Francia

Born, 1921 in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France. Died, 2012

»  Denzil Forrester

Born, 1956 in Grenada

»  John Lyons

Born, 1933 in Port of Spain, Trinidad

»  Levi Tafari

Born, 1960 in Liverpool

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  Harris Museum & Art Gallery

Preston, United Kingdom