Jonathan Forrest


Jonathan Forrest is part of the vibrant next generation of Saskatchewan’s abstract painters. His multi-layered and boldly coloured acrylic paintings playfully reference post-war abstract painting. Jonathan Forrest has been a regular participant and organizer at the Emma Lake workshops over the course of his career.


Part of the vibrant next generation of Saskatchewan’s abstract painters, Jonathan Forrest’s boldly coloured acrylic paintings playfully reference post-war abstract painting. But instead of introspectively exploring the canvas, these layered paintings lift from the surface, tactfully invading the viewers’ space. Forrest’s paintings play within the limitations of a flat surface while opening up new possibilities for spatial composition. In the context of a history of painting defined by flatness, Jonathan Forrest is re-inventing the idea of contemporary prairie painting.

Jeffrey Spalding describes Forrest’s paintings in Canadian Art Online Reviews:

“Seen in the flesh, the paintings are physical wonders…Surfaces lavished with built-up layers of icing-cake impasto ooze tantalizingly over the edges. Other areas are scraped right back to a residual stained ground. Slabs of clean line and hard-edged painterly slivers of varying thicknesses have the appearance that their corners have been folded over, origami gone mad…”

Jonathan Forrest received both his Bachelor and Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Saskatchewan. He attended the Emma Lake Artist’s Workshop several times and became an organizer in 2001. His work has been widely exhibited within Canada and can be found in many public collections including: the Canada Council’s Art Bank, University of Saskatchewan and the Art Gallery of Alberta.

Of his practice the artist states:

“My work is a combination of intuitive responses to the world around me, an ongoing dialogue with contemporary and historical painting, and an enthusiastic immersion in the material process of making objects. My natural openness and curiosity has kept me alert to a range of potential approaches to art-making and my creative process is positive – I’m interested in creating something new, something generous and giving and above all, something that sustains me in the studio. Painting today allows me to explore my humour, to playfully reference past art styles and to juggle all this into my own eclectic vision.”

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