Julian Forrest : Statement

Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire. What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that river into the mystery of an unknown earth! . . . The dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths, the germs of empires. - Conrad’s Heart of Darkness


“In these paintings I mine personal memories and histories, and create fictional characters that I can coax into some semi-cohesive, and hopefully poetic narrative. Like good literary fiction, good painting needs to unearth a known truth – to make something from something, as the writer Etgar Keret once noted. I found it interesting in talking to my colleague, the author Marina Endicott, about her practice: she often starts the writing process by looking at images.  Analogously, I often start the painting process by reading texts.  Recently I have moved away from academic sources and have instead been (re)reading Conrad, William Golding, Joseph Campbell and other writers who deal with forms of migration or exploration of the wild. – JF


"I have also been hiring actors to perform, and often improvise, scenes from found photos, from stories that come from my own family’s migratory experience, or from historical paintings (by Benjamin West, Edwin Lanseer, Jean Leon Gerome, Giorgio Vasari, and others) that share a similar subject." - JF 


Julian Forrest received his BFA from Mount Allison University and his MFA from the University of Alberta.  He has received several awards and grants for his work, including a SSHRC Graduate Scholarship and three Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Awards, as well as creation grants from local, provincial and federal organizations. His paintings were included in the 2007 Alberta Biennial, and he is represented in the Alberta Foundation for the Arts’ permanent collection.  Julian is an Associate Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Alberta’s Augustana campus.  Julian Forrest was the 2015 recipient of the Eldon and Anne Foote Visual Arts Prize for his diptych 'Perceptual Disorders'  (after Keret).