IN this digital age when things and ideas move in a fast pace, art creates a meditative way to focus and relax. Art creates an opportunity to notice little and trivial things that beautifully represent life in its own complicated way, allowing one to take a break from the hustle and bustle.
Hoping to share this opportunity to meditate with his audience, Filipino-American artist Wayne Forte launched his exhibit “StillLife: The Eloquence of Common Objects” last Feb. 22 in 856 G Gallery located at 856 A.S. Fortuna St., Banilad, Cebu City.
“This year, I wanted to paint something more meditative, more from the heart. I decided to do ‘still lifes’ that were little altars, and like altars everything has a meaning or a purpose. Some are just decorative but other things remind me of places I’ve been to, of things I have collected, and of the people here in the Philippines,” said Wayne.
Wayne was born in the Philippines to a Filipina mother in 1950 but left the country at the age of three. With the hope of reconnecting with his Filipino bloodline, Wayne often includes in his paintings, elements of his Filipino ancestry.
“I was taken away from my roots and I never came back until I was 21. That’s when Plaza Miranda happened, so I had to leave again very quickly. I have a little bit of a trauma about not growing up here—not knowing my cousins, my family, my place in Silay, Negros. I’m trying to make up for it now that I’m older and do some things I always wanted to do. I come here for three months every year for the last 12 years since my mother died because I was the only one born here. When my mother died, I knew that I would have to be the connection. I’m always trying to use my paintings to discover more about my Filipino background,” the artist said.
The paintings exude a light, colorful and playful vibe yet these artworks show a solid and grounded texture highlighting recurring objects seemingly formed as little altars commonly found in Filipino households like musical instruments, fruits, food and most importantly the beautiful and proud rooster. Wayne is also a member of the group Christians in Visual Arts (Civa) so his paintings include biblical elements.
“A lot of these are sacramental objects; St. Peter’s cock that crowed three times, the fish when that time Jesus took out a coin out of its mouth. For tropical fruits, it’s called the first blessing in Gen. 1:11. Without that first blessing, life on earth would not have been possible. So these are like altars—not really like a Catholic altar but that’s the inspiration I had. When I was a child, I would look at altars in churches and in my bedroom I would build little altars. Right now, I think I’m still doing that in a way,” Wayne said.
Slow and meditative, the artist hopes to reintegrate life in a digital age through his paintings. To patch the chopped up and compartmentalized way of life, to allow one to look at the artworks passively and with meaning amid everything else being scheduled that’s quick, fast and instant.