Born in India, educated in England, and a citizen of Canada, Michael Forster had international artistic roots, making it difficult to place his body of work in any one artistic movement or category. The supremacy of color was paramount to Forster, who here subtly blended layers of paint into gently refined compositions. His rich variations, luminous passages and inherent brilliant surface textures remain compelling even in his smaller works. Coupled with Forster's dexterous handling of paint, the richness of his colors make his works truly exceptional. Such varied and richly abstracted pictures place Forster as a stand-out amongst his contemporaries. He remained active in Canada for more than forty-five years and contributed substantially to the role in the cultural history of Canadian art. A frequent exhibitor with the major art societies by the 1930s, and with several of his paintings in the country's major museum collections at an early age by the 1940s, Forster is an artist with a unique and important place in the annals of contemporary art that reaches beyond international borders.
To Celebrate A Childhood-Entally, 1985 another of Michael Forster's works executed upon his return to Canada, represents like his other work similarly titled To Celebrate A Childhood-Hooghly, 1986 a harkening back to the artist's childhood spent growing up in Entally, India, a neighborhood in Central Kolkata previously known as Calcutta in the state of West Bengal. The artist has carefully built up his colors layer by layer until the lustrous surface is complete. Again there are no evident forms visible in this work. Rather the color has become the form, suggesting the mood, the time, and the atmosphere. All of the introspections, musings, and nostalgic remembrances of the artist are here on display. Forster always claimed that he never planned any of works, but rather insisted that they were the result of the "demands of his subconscious."
The color yellow is the dominant hue, and it is intense, all encompassing, and dominating like the oppressive heat in India. Yet the pigment also bears a cheerful tone, and it reminds us that Forster's youth in India was a stable, if not happy time until the murder of his father. Like many of Forster's paintings, this painting was heavily influenced by the Surrealist Movement, and in particularly the influence of his close friend Rufino Tamayo whom he met in Mexico.
Messum's, London, 2-26 October, 2013