A Fish, A Plant, A Prophet
Parables and Prophecies: A Visual Epistle is a retrospective of the Biblically themed works of Wayne Forte. LUZ Art presents a collection of thirty-three years of captivating imagery that is dynamic, modern, and spiritual. An epistle is traditionally known as a letter written with a message for a specific recipient. Embedded in Forte’s artwork, in the symbols, bold colors, and shapes, are messages inspired by the Biblical narrative.
Forte is internationally recognized, and his work has been collected by Biola University, Westmont College, Concordia University, and the Vatican. He has shown in galleries throughout the United Utates, as well as in Brazil and the Philippines. The artist’s creativity emerged at an early age. Forte was born in the Philippines and raised in California. He recalls childhood experiences of feeling captivated by the art and architecture of the Santa Barbara Mission where his family attended mass. As he began to study art, he found himself drawn to the work of old masters, powerful Biblical works of Rembrandt and Caravaggio. Yet he recognized a distance between his generation and the baroque and renaissance era paintings—the artist aims to draw on their familiarity and bridge it to a modern audience.
Forte uses a rather compressed Modernist space in his work, the kind of space that signals the urgency of contemporary life. He uses text often scrawled over the surface of his paintings to anchor them and himself in the scriptures but also as a formal device that fractures the surface in a Cubist manner, allowing further configuration and a continued search for deeper meaning.
Personal references are often included in Forte’s work. Evidence of a genuine spiritual life, contemplation, hardship, and joy are from the artist’s own experiences. “ In my work I always try to include a link to the Old Testament, it’s reflection in the New Testament, my own personal journey and also acknowledge the artists who have supported and inspired me with their treatment of the subject.”
Forte chooses to revisit certain Biblical narratives, painting them multiples times, often yearly, to express their different qualities and his evolving point of view. “This coincides with the character of the Scripture itself, the ‘Living Word’ which grows with one’s own maturity and understanding.”
With Parables and Prophecies Forte anticipates that diverse gallery visitors will bring their own experiences and dialogue to the exhibition. “I hope to impart an intrigue about the gospel,” says the artist, “and to believers, I want them to see what art about the Bible can look like – that it doesn’t necessarily have to be the old master paintings that were done in the baroque, renaissance or gothic style, that it can be something quite contemporary.”
Parables and Prophecies is on view at LUZ Art until April 24th.