Vibrant paintings that immortalise the energy of London’s reggae and dub scene in the 1980s

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Denzil Forrester’s vibrant, colourful works immortalise the dynamic energy of the London reggae and dub nightclub scene during the early 1980s, a subject that has endured throughout four decades of his practice.

Pulsating with rhythm, the Grenada born, British artist’s expressive depictions of dance halls and clubs capture crowds of people moving in unison with the beat of the music and encircled by totemic sound systems. Flashes of vivid colour, gestural brushstrokes and frenetic compositions characterise his work.

Discussing the influence of this era on his practice, Forrester says: “In 1980, I started going to all-night ‘blues’ clubs. The music playing in these clubs was reggae which generated particular dance movements and specialised clothing, all of which play an important part in my painting.

“In these clubs, city life is recreated in essence: sounds, lights, police sirens, bodies pushing and swaying back and forth. It’s a continuation of city life with some spiritual fulfilment. The idea of finding tranquil moments among a complex and cluttered environment is the basic structure for my paintings.

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