Born in Grenada in 1956, Forrester came to England at the age of ten. After completing his BA at the Central School of Art and his MA at the Royal College, he won the Rome Scholarship in 1983, followed by the Harkness Scholarship which took him to New York for eighteen months. In 1987 he received the Korn/Ferry International Award for work of exceptional merit of any category for ‘Carnival Dub’ at the Royal Academy Summer Show. In 1991 he was awarded a touring exhibition by the Harris Museum & Art Gallery. In 2000 he was awarded the Scottish Gallery Dianna King Prize for a painting in any medium for ‘Bag Bag’ at the Royal Academy.
In 2019 Art on the Underground invited Forrester to create his first major public commission for Brixton Station for he which reinterpreted his seminal work ‘Three Wicked Men’ (1982), now in the Tate collection, into an immersive, large-scale painting. He was the focus of ‘Denzil Forrester Study Day’ held at Iniva in 2020, an event which invited artists Alvaro Barrington and John Lyons, curator Osei Bonsu, and Professor Eddie Chambers to discuss and generate new readings of Denzil Forrester’s work, invite personal responses and inspire continuing dialogue.
Denzil Forrester’s work is rich, complex and highly sophisticated. The strength of his draftsmanship and his extraordinary use of colour enable him to bring dynamic movement and purposeful power to his canvases. London’s urban life is his main source of inspiration. The music which permeates his work comes from the West Indies; the range of iridescent colours into which he translates the music has been evoked by the light and colour of Italy. He has been lecturing at Morley College and is now based in Cornwall.