The artist in his New Orleans studio, 1995.
I moved to New Orleans after studying art in New York for several years. I found that it reminded me of the freedom I enjoyed traveling around Europe, and gave me an opportunity to meet other young artists and collaborate with them in unimaginable ways. Our lives became the main subject of my art, and there was a seemless overlap between the two, from the moment I woke up until late at night. Anything was fair, honest game.
Born in Hollywood,
School of Visual Arts,
New York, New York.
Justin Forbes has been enjoying his artistic pursuits for most of his life. Born in Hollywood to a professional photographer and a professional dancer, he was exposed to art at a young age and it was his first love, career, and lifestyle.
Forbes’ work is narrative and autobiographical in nature. His life and his art overlap as many events and dreams of his make their way into his large, crowded settings. Often the viewer can feel they are being invited to watch a performance or challenged as a voyeur by character elements staring out at the audience. Color, light and shadow are all very important to Forbes. There is a sense of irony along side the often brutally honest story lines alluded to in Forbes' compositions. The viewer senses that they "know" people in his portraits and multi person scenes. Often they are people he knows, we all know. Justin will not rest until he gets it right. He is after that perfect energetic, loose mastery of detail and mood. Justin's eye often exaggerates perspective, providing us with a view of the world as seen through a wide angle lens.
In my work I try to evoke a halcyon memory drawn from our inner vaults of a childlike subconscious that resides behind protected firewalls. It is something we all have experienced, like a muscle memory in dream or reality, that I hope to capture. Stylized personal mythology. Through specific attention to genuine details and characters as they interact appeal to a side of us that becomes teary eyed and giddy with teen aged thrill of something new, or haunted by the childhood psychodrama of something old…Fervently capturing compressed moments in life that come as close to the reverie of actually living it first hand as you could hope to see on the dimensions of a canvas.
Justin Forbes is collected by Michael Brown and Linda Green, Sela Ward, T.G. Herrington, Larry Flynt, Joe Locher, Kevin Griffin, Debora and Paul Lipman, Keith Meeks, John Topoleski, Paul A. Ward, Navin Agrawal and many others. He has four paintings in the permanent collection of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, gift of the Michael Brown and Linda Green collection. Justin is represented by the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans.
Legendary Artist Jim Phillips' thoughts on Forbes
Justin Forbes is unrelenting in his pursuit of art, and his paintings are consistently relentless as well. The visual yield is as prodigious as the aroma of fine oils in his studio, a fragrant reminders of long days and late nights, yea, years, endured alternately in both of this artist’s twin faces, agony and ecstasy. Slipping gently between paint tubes, mason-jar arrays of brushes on colorfully paint-encrusted taborets and the artist himself sleeping soundly on his studio chaise one early morning, you might be tempted to lift the easel’s veil to catch a glimpse of the previous night’s noble effort. Even in morning light you would be immediately trapped, drawn into what will seem a frozen moment in a world enigmatically presented in semi-realism as near-normal circumstances flirting with subtle and not-so-subtle surrealism as his rich array of color radiates depth and life in painterly tones and tertiary hues you would expect to see in a Paul Gauguin painting. It invites, no, entices you look deeper to decipher meaning, and there’s usually several juxtaposing levels to contemplate, where emotion reigns as his subjects strut and fret in sheer beauty and abject ugliness on the world’s never-ending stage: urban streets and pool halls, swimming and skateboard pools, casually populated with high and low society dudes and chicks dangling precariously and perniciously near the precipice of life. You would undoubtedly stand transfixed, unabashedly gawking and virtually awestruck at the painting’s vivid representation. But if Justin was to awaken, you could expect a true gentleman despite your indiscretion, a very personable and amicable soul that you will want to continue to know and watch. And art collectors across the globe watch indeed; behind Mr. Forbes’ humble demeanor is a consummate artist destined to be one of the formidable artists of his generation and it would be a great disappointment if his genius is not ultimately recognized in universal acclaim.
- Jim Phillips
- Jim Phillips