JONATHAN FORREST - Night and Day
Reception: Saturday, September 10, 2pm
September 10 – October 6
Art Placement is pleased to present Jonathan Forrest’s latest exhibition, Night and Day, a study in difference that also highlights the unexpected relationships between things that are seemingly opposite. As a contemporary painter, Forrest is inescapably invested in the concept of difference; contrast is the arena in which painters have always operated. The dynamism—or calculated lack—in any painting is entirely dependent on contrasts: of light and dark, smooth and coarse, gloss and matte, thick and thin, bright and muted.
There are literal ways that this concept manifests itself visually in Forrest’s recent paintings, from the contrast between thick and thin paint, very dark and very light grounds, and the difference between the crisp and clean geometry of the faceted paintings and the coarse roughness of the organic shape paintings (the former painted during his days at the studio, and the latter in the evenings!). Dividing his studio time between Vancouver Island and rural Saskatchewan, it is not surprising that Forrest’s practice is similarly split into different ways of working. This is not to say that his paintings are responses to landscape or place, per se, but that his creative process in general is exploratory and open ended, always searching for the unexpected and ever willing to take a hard right in response to changing circumstances.
Night and Day is an idiom about difference--about seeming opposites--but the space between two poles is also an infinite continuum of gradients. Stark contrasts are easily invoked to make a point, but the space between the extremes is usually the terrain in which the most interesting and unexpected questions reside. For Forrest, who typically starts painting with some sense of a “plan”, the creative process ultimately decides the final outcome. Though sometimes--and perhaps ideally--the finished painting is a destination that could not have been known at the outset, the process remains the foundation of his practice and the bridge between night and day that holds it all together.
Jonathan Forrest is an abstract painter based in Canada. He divides his studio time between Vancouver Island and small town Saskatchewan. He studied at the University of Saskatchewan and has participated in several artists' workshops including The Emma Lake Artists' Workshop and Triangle Artists' Workshop, Brooklyn, NY. His work has been shown throughout Western Canada in museums and commercial galleries in Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver. His work can be found in numerous public, private and corporate collections.
Night and Day
I spent a large part of this spring and summer painting at my rural studio in Saskatchewan - an old church that I've converted into a summer studio. Working in my large sunlit space I expanded on some ideas about transparency, colour, and a folded overlapping envelope shape that I had made tentative prototypes of in the last year or so. I had the freedom to work big and on many pieces at the same time. I got lost in the work and was having a great time spending my days working on a large scale. The resulting works form the basis for this show.
I started these paintings with a definite layout in mind--a definite plan. Can following a plan actually invite the unknown, the unthinkable? It might seem like a contradiction, but following a plan allows you to just get to work, and getting lost in the process can create a mental space where something unexpected can creep in. How do you follow a plan while being open to changing, adding or even throwing it out the window at a moment’s notice?
Contrasting the “day” paintings, I spent my evenings working on a number of small canvas panels that I had brought with me from Vancouver Island (some already in a partially completed state). I periodically pulled them out and loosely smeared and scraped paint on them, almost as an unwinding from the day’s "proper" work. It’s liberating to work in this way. At first a painting seems to hold onto what you hoped it would be. With some distance and time you can let that go and react to the piece without imposition -- react to what's actually there rather than what you hoped was there. Twenty minutes spent scraping and smearing paint -- each time thinking that maybe this time it will amount to something special. It often doesn't but it's uplifting to think that this could be the crucial twenty minutes that makes something meaningful (even if months or years have already been invested to get to that last twenty minutes). Maybe it’s just Pollyannaish but I am ever hopeful (willfully ignoring past failures) that this particular time it might just work.
Every painter I admire revels in the journey, the making, and the physical materials -- whether or not there is an overt concept. For some painters this journey is a pleasure while for others it’s agony (!), but regardless, it’s necessary and important. Some of the most satisfying moments in the studio are the eureka moments, the instants when it all makes sense. A rare aligning of neurons, eyes and physically making something. But in the end it comes down to the work’s character and as always your actual experience standing in front of the work and sensing its presence.
These approaches might seem like opposites ... like night and day ... but in my mind they are intertwined: valid approaches to the issue of authenticity, spontaneity and serendipity and hopefully spending a life searching and mulling over these ideas through making paintings will eventually lead to success in sneaking up on that ever elusive mystery called art.