Spotlight: Shane Forrest

“Nothing is wasted. All is transformed.”

Francis Bacon famously claimed that all art was about “sex and death,” but Shane Forrest has a more nuanced vision. His art is a constant examination of “entropy and the fight against it.”

Forrest is the most economical of artists. The canvases on which he paints are found abandoned on streets. Most of the Arches paper he uses for his paintings comes from his old friend, Guy Warren, who gives him paper he has discarded. Nothing is wasted. All is transformed.

This is especially true of the brochures from real estate agents which stuff our letterboxes, their glossy pictures and hyperbolic weasel words transforming mediocrity into fantasy. If the brochures are not quickly removed, snails, worms, and insects find them and they are eaten away. Entropy.

Shane Forrest, An exciting prospect for further potential and creative updates or renovation, 2020. Courtesy the artist

Forrest has found a use for brochures other than as food for other forms of life or the council’s recycling bin. He takes them, tears them up and reassembles them in ways that the agents could never imagine. The reconstructed works are then sealed with acrylic matte varnish before being repainted in gouache, neatly boxed to make the most enticing of images. Their titles come from the source material: In an admired enclave, Sitting above a vibrant retail piazza and Boasting a sunny rear yard.

Shane Forrest, This boutique new development, 2022. Courtesy the artist 

In his large paintings Forrest undertakes an even greater transformation of the property market’s fantasy. Each work is based on a real estate advertisement for a single house. Their titles also come from the weasel words of real estate marketing: Standing proudly within an exclusive streetscape, Plenty of character to sooth the soul and No neighbours here plus a large shed. The glossed-up images created by the agents and their stylists are transformed into exquisite, intensely coloured acrylic paintings; three of them, painted on Arches paper. One is selected to be transferred to canvas. The next is layered over it and torn – the rough white tear is incorporated into the design. Then the third torn image adds another layer of complexity. These fragments create a dislocated vision of the absurd fantasy the market is promoting, a transformation in destruction. Permanence is an artificial construct.


The art historian and art critic Joanna Mendelssohn has long admired Shane Forrest’s work.

Rogue Pop-up Gallery in Sydney will present new paintings by Shane Forrest in a solo exhibition titled Spooky Action at an Address from 16 July to 17 August 2022

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