Youth of the Day, 1989

Miami Beach 2019
Stephen Friedman Gallery
Painting
120.7 x 180.8 (cm)
47.5 x 71.2 (inch)
Denzil Forrester's vibrant, colourful works immortalise the dynamic energy of the London reggae and dub nightclub scene of the early 1980s, a subject that has endured throughout four decades of the artist's practice. Framed by two large, totemic speakers in the background, Forrester shows a group of nocturnal revellers dancing with one another in ‘Youth of the Day’ as they strike dramatic poses. Mirroring the music’s pulsating beat, the work is characterised by flashes of vivid colour, frenetic motion and gestural brushstrokes. The dynamic sets of legendary dub DJ Jah Shaka and his roving sound system had a formative influence on the development of Forrester’s work at the time. Discussing the influence of this era on his practice, Forrester explains, "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. The figures and images in my work are crowded together, whereas the spaces in-between echo the music of the ‘blues' clubs, but are also reminiscent of the light that breaks through a forest, or the light that reflects from a nightclub's mirrored ball."