Denzil Forrester: Itchin & Scratchin

Denzil Forrester, Night Strobe, 1985.
Denzil Forrester, Catch a Fire, 2010. Copyright Denzil Forrester. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.
  • Denzil Forrester, Night Strobe, 1985.
  • Denzil Forrester, Catch a Fire, 2010. Copyright Denzil Forrester. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

Nottingham Contemporary presents a selection of paintings and works on paper by Denzil Forrester, in his largest institutional exhibition to date. Titled Itchin & Scratchin, the show will span the dimly lit dancehalls of 1980s East London to the present-day open-air clubs of Jamaica.

Focusing on large-scale paintings made by the Grenada-born, Cornwall-based artist from the last two decades, the exhibition comprises vivid, colourful works that capture the dynamic energy of the London reggae and dub nightclub scene during the early 1980s, a subject that has endured throughout 40 years of the artist's practice. Forrester’s paintings typically begin as quick sketches, often made during the length of a single track and drawn quasi-blind on dark, bustling dancefloors.

Having visited Kingston for the first time earlier this year, the artist will also showcase a new body of work that captures the vibrant atmosphere of the city’s sound systems. Six new paintings will be exhibited alongside original, preparatory drawings that Forrester made whilst immersed in Jamaica’s nightlife. Itchin & Scratchin will be punctuated by significant earlier works, to demonstrate the breadth of the artist’s practice, his use of recurring motifs and continued commitment to exploring the energy of London’s music halls.

Itchin & Scratchin will be presented alongside two other solo exhibitions at Nottingham Contemporary: a selected survey of Diane Simpson’s minimalist sculptures and drawings spanning her 40-year practice and an exhibition of new work by Sung Tieu exploring sound, conflict, and how political ideas are disseminated.

Itchin & Scratchin will tour to Spike Island in Bristol in the summer, from 4 July to 6 September 2020.