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Denzil Forrester’s Night Strobe: a disco extravaganza | Art and design

Beam me up …

Dancefloor energy beams every which way in Denzil Forrester’s 1985 painting, less from the disco ball than the DJ’s sound system and the dancers. Fusing ephemeral and physical, its coloured lines suggest illuminating rays and dub vibrations, battering against and rumbling within the gyrating bodies.

Concrete dub …

As an art student in the early 1980s, Forrester began creating paintings that channelled east London’s dub and reggae scene, particularly nights with Jah Shaka and his unique mono sound system.

Dancing in the dark …

The artist would often sketch blind behind the bar, unsure what colours he was using. The paintings began the next day while the club’s atmosphere was still with him, and were sometimes revisited over many years.

Touched by the light …

Forrester has described the DJ as a witch doctor unifying the crowd. Here, there is a sense of a shared, ecstatic, even spiritual, experience passing through the dancers, interconnected by his multicoloured flashes.

Denzil Forrester: Itchin & Scratchin, Nottingham Contemporary, Saturday 8 February to 3 May

Denzil Forrester’s Night Strobe, 1985.

Photograph: Stephen Friedman Gallery.

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