Julian Forrest "When You Were Here Before", 2013
Julian Forrest "When You Were Here Before", 2013 Oil on canvas 60" x 60"
Looking at Julian Forrest’s work is like flipping through a collection of short stories. His paintings feel like magic realism, surreal tableaux frozen in ambiguous time and opaque settings. It’s easy to yearn for a unifying narrative. Why is the Lone Ranger standing in the driveway of a suburban house in When You Were Here Before? What’s with the dead buffalo? And why is the vintage pink Chevie on fire?
“My work has become more and more narrative,” Forrest says. “Those narratives are much more contained within the images. They draw from reality, but are in their own world. I mine the Internet for images, from now, from the past, that will become characters in this ongoing story that I am telling.”
Forrest grew up in Quebec but now teaches at the University of Alberta’s Augustana campus in Camrose. In recent years he has watched as throngs of men move to Alberta to work in the oil patch, prompting his interest in themes of migration and exodus as well as masculinity and costuming. It’s a potent brew, fuelled in part by his continuing fascination with classic dystopian novels like William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as well as the contemporary stories of Israeli writer Etgar Keret.
"Perceptual Disorders (after Keret)"
Julian Forrest, "Perceptual Disorders (after Keret)," 2014, oil on canvas, two panels 72″ x 60″ each.
Forrest recently won the fourth annual Eldon and Anne Foote Edmonton Visual Arts Prize. He was nominated for his painting, Perceptual Disorders (after Keret), a diptych that explores contemporary diversions.
Julian Forrest is represented by Edmonton’s Peter Robertson Gallery, where his next show, Perceptual Disorders, runs Sept. 3 to Sept. 22. His work sells for $1,400 to $20,000.