Jonathan Forrest "Playing in the Field of Form" Opening Reception
Newzones is pleased to present the opening of Canadian painter Jonathan Forrest’s solo exhibition, "Playing in the Field of Form", opening at Newzones Gallery on Saturday, April 9th from 2-4pm.
Jonathan Forrest was born in Scotland and emigrated to Canada when he was a teenager. He studied painting at the university of Saskatchewan in the early 1980s and it was there that he was introduced to abstraction by Saskatoon artist and teacher Robert Christie. Through Christie he was exposed to artists’ work such as Canadian painter Jack Bush and closer to home, Saskatoon painter William Perehudoff, as well as Christie’s own work. This exposure imprinted on the young artists and the introduction of colour, scale, and paint process formed the groundwork for his later developments and explorations. Forrest attended a number of key Emma Lake Artists’ Workshops over a 27 year period, the first one being in 1985. This workshop gave Forrest the opportunity to learn in a hands-on practical way from a range of national and international painters (including Christie and Perehudoff) as well as New York critic Karen Wilkin. For the rest of the 1980s, Jonathan continued to meet a number of important artists and critics both through the Emma Lake workshops and through facilitation by Robert Christie. These included a Scottish painter John McLean, American painter Kenneth Noland, and legendary art critic Clement Greenberg.
Forrest maintained his studio practice through postmodernism’s questioning and searching, steadily establishing himself in Canada as an artist committed to pursuing the possibilities of painting and abstraction. Now he divides his studio time between Vancouver Island and small-town Saskatchewan. He has exhibited extensively in Canada and abroad and his work can be found in numerous public and private collections. He recently had a mid-career museum survey show at the Art Gallery of Swift Current in 2021 which will travel to the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery in early 2023.
Forrest sees an aspect of his painting practice as being a dialogue with his mentors and with the history of modernist painting. The work in the exhibition “Playing in the Field of Form” directly references Jonathan’s formative years, including a conversation with colour field painting from the 1960s through to the 1980s, and in particular the work of Christie and Perehudoff. These new works have an exuberance of colour and full shapes that fill the canvases, displaying Forrest’s unique colour sensibility and painting process and building on lessons learned over forty years of studio work.
There is a playfulness to these paintings that I’m really enjoying. The way they’re painted is straightforward – pulls of paint and sponged washes of colour. There’s a feeling that the paintings are a bit ahead of me, that I’m along for the ride but I don’t quite know where we’re going. I try to keep open and trust the process. The idea is to move from what you want to painting to be, toward seeing what the painting is.