Artist Profile: Kieran Forster

WORKING FROM HIS BRISBANE-BASED WAREHOUSE STUDIO, KIERAN FORSTER APPLIES 20 YEARS OF  PSYCHIATRY PRACTICE AND A BACKGROUND IN PHILOSOPHY TO AN EXPLORATION OF HUMANITY’S INNER TURMOIL. NELL COHEN WRITES.

FOR SELF-TAUGHT, abstract artist Kieran Forster, there is no such thing as a blank canvas. The prima materia behind his vivid and emotionally tumultuous patterns and human subjects includes degrees in philosophy, literature, history and law, and a 20-year career in psychiatry.

“I have had very privileged access to the inner selves of a huge range of people who needed my help,” says Kieran. “I see myself more as a channel for these narratives and not as a source of them.”

Exploring the interface between art, creativity and the human body and mind, Kieran plays with dynamic colour and deep textures in order to express the power of the “un-synthetic” and “un-made”. The thematic concerns behind his work include figurative memories of nature, “speculative physics” such as cells, geology and human psychology.

Kieran’s inner-city Brisbane warehouse functions as both a private psychiatry practice half the week, and an art studio the other. He describes his practice as “often not planned, but allowed in a meditative way”. Music is central to his process. Drawing inspiration from Bach and heavy metal band High on Fire, amplified by the studio’s “inspiring acoustics”, the artist says he seeks to express both the “light and darkness of the human being in crisis” in his work.

“I tend to favour the sense of victory over the darkness and so there is more colour than one might expect from a psychiatrist artist.”

Grateful to a supportive partner, family, and patients, Forster sees his studio and practice as an opportunity to give back. He has used the space for his solo exhibition and collaboration with other artists and sees its potential for facilitating mentorship of younger talents.

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