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.
One of several paintings executed late in Forster's career and upon his return to Canada, Untitled, 1981 employs pure color in a complex composition that Forster referred to as one of his "inner landscapes". Continuing the landscape tradition pioneered by John Constable, Forster intertwined nature, nostalgic remembrances, and dreamy subconscious to express a subject matter that he felt gave him complete freedom. The Founder of Canadian Surrealism, Forster was a pioneering contributor to Modernism in Canada, a legacy that is only now beginning to be appreciated. In our example sequential layers of pigment create a deep sense of space, while rising or dancing forms within an atmosphere of roiling color dominate the canvas, recalling the influence of the iconic Surrealist painter Rufino Tamayo whom Forster met during his stay in Mexico. These late works filled with light filled passages, color, and organic patterns are stunning abstractions that will cement Forster's special place in the cultural history of Canada.
Messum's, London, 2-26 October, 2013