19th November 2015

Review: Richard Forster

Question the concept of time with Richard Forster at the Whitworth

Sandwiched between a historic collection of British watercolours and the refreshingly contemporary (and very aptly named) Art_Textiles, you will find Richard Forster’s meticulously crafted photo-realist graphite drawings. The level of quality and attention to detail in these drawings is absolutely incredible, with the majority of uninformed visitors entirely convinced that they are looking at photographs. Of course, when they realise that these works were in fact drawings made to look like photographs, they instantly treat them in a different way. We undeniably treat the experience of looking at drawings different to that of looking at photographs.

A great deal has been written about this matter and it can be said that photographs are usually seen as factual documents, whereas drawings are representational and more capable of fiction. If we understand this to be true, it is no surprise that visitors should decide to change their viewing experience once they learn the reality of the medium. But what happens to the concept of truth and reality in this entanglement of fact and fiction? Are we to say that at one time the viewer was happy to accept these as documents and now spends longer looking at them, admiring their fictional scenery? Or is it more about the viewer deciding that these pictures are worth looking at more because they clearly took longer to make? To what extent could it be both?

The concept of time is as important for Forster in the creation of these works as it is for us in looking at them. Forster works in very meticulous ways, timing how long it takes for the tide to come in, taking pictures at regular intervals. Or on train journeys, taking a picture every so often on a small stretch of the rail tracks. The resulting pictures become the subject for his drawings which take a split second snapshot through a laboriously time consuming drawing process and into the realm of representation.

In short, Richard Forster’s drawings are intelligently crafted pieces of work that explore the relationships between fact and fiction, fast and slow, as well as photography and drawing.

Until the 3rd of January 2016.

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