Ian Forbes • Big Foldy Practice of Death.
My background is in painting. I have a MFA in Painting (1997) from the University of Alberta, and as a result notions of quality, craft and taste continue to plague me. Following MFA, my relationship with painting was so conflicted and wrought with anxiety that I abandoned it almost completely in favour of installation. In 2008 I was introduced to the accordion fold book format: the Foldy Books of Death (FBoD). The idiosyncratic discursive narrative generated by the continuous format of the FBoD has become the driving force of my practice. This “ Foldy Book Process” has enabled me to fully realize an extended visual narrative, outside of installation, that rebuts the modernist conversation of my schooling (e.g. figuration vs. abstraction or art vs. kitsch...) and addresses the contemporary concerns of my practice (e.g. the social role of the artist in the creation of new possibilities...).
The Big Foldy Painting of Death, Volume One is the latest extension of FBoD. It is 127’ 8” by 6’. The BFPoD is my proof of concept - a new way to bring image, format, process and media together to create a large scale, unrestrained, personal narrative in painting. Through this cumulative process I am able to create fields of construction that express a range of thinking rather than a definitive, authoritative work (what Clement Greenberg liked to call “The One”). This work examines the hierarchies, mechanics and politics of image making. My studio is on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. I am white guy living in unceded Coast Salish territory. I see things on a daily basis that make me question the relevance of my practice. Part of having a critical art practice, for me, is trying to deal with decadent and self indulgent nature of contemporary art while addressing the power imbalances within our culture. The themes of creation and destruction reflect my conflicted feelings about a wide range of situations within contemporary life. This is an ongoing project that engages the viewer at multiple points of entry. My desire is to create immersive, complex works that encourage reflection and discussion.