Coming of age as a painter in Saskatoon in the 1980s had a huge impact on Forrest’s development as an artist. He grew up under the influence of Robert Christie at the University of Saskatoon and colour field painter William Perehudoff. Modernism and Prairie Abstraction was firmly rooted in Saskatoon, starting with the influence of the Regina Five in the 1960s, the Emma Lake Workshops and the legacy of American art critic Clement Greenberg at those workshops. There was an emphasis on abstraction that was open, thin, clear and flat, self-referential with no illusions to space or subject. It is within these strict parameters that Forrest has dedicated his entire artistic practice.
Jonathan Forrest’s recent paintings follow his unique technique of pulling and scraping thin layers of paint across a canvas, and repeating the process until something emerges. He reacts to each stage, intuitively responding to what is happening with the colours, shapes and textures. There is a collage-like feeling to the paintings, but also a sense of discovery and play. These paintings combine luminous thin layers with chunks of solid colour, ridges, edges and licks of paint that skip, creating a luscious painterly experience.
Jonathan Forrest is an abstract painter who divides his studio time between Vancouver Island and small town Saskatchewan, Canada. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and immigrated with his family to Canada in 1977.
Forrest studied at the University of Saskatchewan receiving his BFA in 1983 and his MFA in 1991. Jonathan has participated in several artists’ workshops including The Emma Lake Artists’ Workshop (1985, 1988, 1991, 2001, 2003 and 2005), The “Saskatchewan Invitational artists’ workshop”, Emma Lake (2000), and Triangle Artists’ Workshop, Brooklyn, NY (2002).
His work has been shown in Western Canada in museums including the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, The Edmonton Art Gallery and The Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina. He has an upcoming survey exhibition at the Art Gallery of Swift Current in 2021.
Public collections include the Canada Council / Art Bank, Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, Edmonton Art Gallery, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw Art Museum, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan Arts Board, University of Lethbridge and the University of Saskatchewan.