RODNEY FORBES: SIGNS & WONDERS
Rodney Forbes lives in Gippsland, the greenest part of Australia. It’s a place of primeval forests dominated by the majestic mountain ash tree, the largest flowering plant in the world, and home to koalas and lyrebirds.
He grew up in the historic seaport of Williamstown, training as an electronics technician on ships, which left him with an enduring love of the sea. As a young man, he traveled overland from Australia via Kathmandu to Europe and his later research work in storytelling has led to visits to Sioux and Navajo communities as well as collaborative work with Australian Indigenous artists, academics and storytellers.
Forbes’ paintings combine full-bore colour, intriguing spatial manipulations, humour, and insightful observation of everyday life. They employ surreal juxtapositions which invite the viewer to attach their own stories and to reexamine their own sense of wonder. His works reward those who live with them, unfolding new layers of meaning over time. Rodney Forbes was born in Melbourne and is a painter who is fascinated by how people tell stories. His work is in figurative narrative painting and uses autobiographical and incident-as-metaphor methods to explore wider issues of knowing and belonging in oral traditions such as working class, children’s and artisan subcultures. His practice draws on pop, cartooning and joke narrative structures within contemporary culture. He is interested in the story telling of cultural crossroads such as Chicago, Liverpool and Melbourne, which engender rich cultures of story-painting, cartooning, humour and music. Comparative studies of travellers’ and locals’ tales are a theme and his work also honours the healing dimension of story-telling and painting.
His work is held in the collection of the Australian National Gallery, Canberra, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Artbank, Regional Galleries and numerous private collections in Australia and internationally. He is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Arts and Education at Federation University Australia and was previously the Director of Gippsland Centre for Art and Design and Switchback Gallery at Monash University. His work has been the subject of two major curated survey exhibitions and he has been the recipient of an Australia Council Arts and Crafts Board New Work Grant. Forbes has been active in curation of indigenous exhibitions and cross- cultural art projects. He lives in Gippsland in Victoria, Australia