Born: Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1949
Tim Forbes bases his international art studios on the south shore of Nova Scotia, on the ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaq near historic Lunenburg. His prolific practice involves demonstrative large-scale works on canvas, abstract sculpture that transcend organic line and form, and curated photography editions illustrating the power of nature, architectural endeavor and cultural memory.
A Canadian multidisciplinary artist born in Halifax, Forbes’ career path led him to Toronto where he was an acclaimed graphic designer and art director of cross-platform communication design for the performing arts, music, film & television industries. After decades of success working with the nation’s leading global corporations, Forbes felt pulled to reach beyond the confines of a design practice to the dimensionality of fine art.
Stretching beyond the confines of an urban design studio, in 2006 Forbes created an annex studio at a 20’s rural Ontario schoolhouse in Creemore, initiating sculpture as a personal dimension. Soon after a first edition suite of bronze works was released to collectors. In 2009, global art specialists AXA ART showcased Forbes’ works at the Toronto International Art Fair. In 2011, Forbes was invited to be featured at the prestigious Architectural Digest Home Design Show at Manhattan's Pier 94 in NYC.
Today, exhibition and commissioned sculpture are produced in fiberglass, resin, bronze, wood and stainless steel.
In solo, group exhibitions and publications, Forbes has proposed perspectives in photo-base monographs ranging in theme from cultural memory to the fractal repurposing of built and organic form.
Folios of gestural works on paper prompted the opening of a dedicated painting studio in Toronto in 2018. Recent large-scale works on canvas, reflecting contemporary minimalist modeling were formally released to collectors at the 2019 Toronto International Art Fair followed in 2020 by an American Premiere exhibition at Lanoue Gallery in Boston.
Excerpt from Minimalism Redefined 2021
Forbes’ paintings are classically minimalist in many respects – the muted black and white palette, the smooth, enlarged formal masses that hold space with effortless tension, but they are also ‘chatty’, performative and deliberately un-finite in the adoption of accentuated singular color.
Arranging mass, volume, shape, and colour to novel realization, Forbes demonstrates just how adept the formal vocabulary is within a conceptual framework.
In the black and white camp, Forbes shares company with a great number of artists including Guido Molinari, and Paul-Émile Borduas. Both artists for different reasons worked in black and white to solve certain formal problems. Molinari to achieve spatial equivalence and background/ foreground reversibility and Borduas to banish figure/ground relationships and achieve pure automatic expression. Braque, Kandinsky, Mondrian and Molinari deployed a paired down pal- ette to create a new world or talk about spiritual and universal ideals.
However, for Forbes there is irony behind the choice in palette shy of pastiche. Indeed, his paintings are solving complex formal and spatial problems, they are also talking about the world we live in right now, which is a complicated space with nuance, inequality, racism, passion – a place with issues that are decidedly not black and white. It is the pared-down quality of the black and white framework that pulls the viewer inside the complexity of the issues with greater facility and allows one to understand ideas anew from different perspectives.
Forbes is not abstracting for an idealized or transcendental figuration of the future like the modernists, he is abstracting the now as a method of analysis and aesthetic compassion, but using a modernist toolkit.
Jessica Veevers, PHD, MAC
“...elegant black-and-white paintings of simple geometric forms call to mind the works of Sol LeWitt,.” – ARTNET NEWS
“A belief in the social necessity of art and its value well beyond the whimsy of popular culture has inspired much of Forbes' inventive career.” – CARLA ROVER, NO.3 MAGAZINE, NEW YORK
I like black. it’s a color that’s made up its mind. - Tim Forbes