Julian Forrest belongs to a younger generation of painters based in Edmonton who, in contrast to the city’s long relationship with late modernist abstraction, are fully representational with a strong social engagement in contemporary society. His narrative subject matter has revolved around male identity and masculinity particularly as it has been represented in pop culture: film and television, comic books and video games, war and sports imagery. Forrest’s paintings recycle appropriated imagery from these sources and more recently have placed them in more complex compositions with settings as diverse as modern suburbia, the old west and the wilderness.
Forrest received his BFA from Mount Allison University (Sackville, NB, 1995) and an MFA from the University of Alberta (2005). He is the recipient of numerous scholarships, awards and grants from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation (1995, 2000 & 2002); Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2004); Alberta Foundation for the Arts (2004, 2006, 2007 & 2010) and University of Alberta for research and travel assistance.
He has had several solo exhibitions in Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Saint John, Sackville, Calgary, London, ON and San Antonio, Texas. Group shows are also numerous and include three paintings for the 2007 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art (2007).
-Curator Mary-Beth Laviolette, for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (2016)
I am interested in social constructions of masculinity (archetypes and stereotypes); notions of conquest and role-play; the relationship between industry and landscape (literal, cultural, and imagined); as well as migration, alienation and the taming of the (Wild) west. Referencing familiar images of suburbia and domestic spaces, these works reimagine moments from a bygone era when societal/gender roles were more rigidly defined. The figures in these paintings are embedded within unlikely juxtapositions of interior and exterior or urban and suburban environments, in which I hint at moments of tension in utopia.
My interest in these themes is inspired by the ongoing transformation (both physical and cultural) of the Alberta landscape(s), the transient nature of this population, as well as the inevitable tensions and changes that occur with the influx of those who flock to oil-rich centres like Edmonton. My paintings are the result of my search to decipher and reference the narratives of this historical moment.
I encourage you to visit my website for more information on my work
In any one year at Augustana, I will teach from: Foundation courses (Art 111 and 112), Drawing courses (Art 231, 232, 331), Painting courses (271, 272, 371) and our senior capstone course (411).