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Stephen Forbes

Born in: 1973 Ireland

Stephen Forbes

Translation in progress

Stephen Forbes was born in Northern Ireland in 1973. He trained at the Royal Academy Schools, London and Liverpool John Moores University. He has exhibited at the Royal Academy Main Galleries, The Royal Academy Sackler Wing, The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Art London and the Tom Caldwell Gallery. His work is held in public and private collections including the Allied Irish Bank , The Duetche Bank. The Four Seasons Hotel, Queens University, Leverhulme, The Ulster Bank and The Office of Public Works.

“Pleasure is a word seldom used in the current vocabulary of art criticism and commentary. The serious, even solemn, high mindedness with which artists are meant to deal with the world and themselves, seems to preclude anything as frivolous as pleasure, particularly if it is the actual subject of a painting.

Children jumping and swinging, women diving, men swimming – a celebration of playfulness which ignores the obsessive introspection about self, the pretentious addressing of social issues and the knowing speculation about the process of art making – these are the starting points for the works by Stephen Forbes. But it is not only the subjects of these paintings and drawings for which we use the word ‘pleasure’.

The sheer enjoyment of the procedures of painting by the artist as he works is inextricably linked to what is represented. The drawings are full of a quick wit and a lively touch which give them the quality of dancing thoughts, but of thoughts which are based on a keen observation of real figures and a knowledge of the traditions of figure drawing, as well as being a reaction to the jostling marks on the surface of the paper.

The fundamentals of the painter’s business are referred to, but not laboured: the colours are red, yellow and blue, the primary pigments; the actions take place in the air, on the earth, in the water. It would seem that Stephen Forbes has put together a language which might be used for a wider range of subjects than those represented here: one could think of the satires of William Hogarth, the grim depictions of battles by Jacques Callot or the mangas of Hokusai.

We may certainly look forward to many interesting developments in his work and while the paintings encourage us to enjoy them, there is no doubt of the underlying seriousness of the artist’s intentions.”
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  • irish artist