Manuel Forte is an artist born in Oporto, Portugal, and the first Portuguese ever presented in our interviews. He attended Kensington & Chelsea College and the Scuplture Academy in London, He attended Ar.Co ́s Painting course and “Gulbenkian Programme of Artistic Creation and Creativity” Videoart course at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon. His work has been exhibited at Galeria Diagrama (Mexico City), BWA Zielona Gorá (Poland), No Space (Mexico City) and Brand New Gallery's 2159miles at Museo Britanico Americano (Mexico City). Read our interview to discover how cities always inform his work and his interest on architectural, behavioural, social or aesthetic transformations.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how did you first became an artist?
My interest in art came from a young age and in different forms, such as Painting, Sculpture and Cinema. Painting and Drawing were the strongest interests and later on came the wish to start producing them. It was something I could do anywhere and had easy access to supplies. Then when I was 15 I had the privilege of visiting a painter’s studio in Oporto and that made me believe it could become my profession. Having access to the studio environment and working process and not only the final product was a decisive moment for my own practice.
You were born in Oporto and lived in London, Lisbon, Sao Paulo and Mexico City.. How did all the contrasts between these cities informed your work?
Cities, especially big metropolis, have always aroused on me a great interest. From early on, whenever I had the opportunity, I tried to discover new ways of thinking the world through the big cities. The “Urban” factor was always crucial for my own work. The search for tools, subjects and points of view were what made me live in those cities. Some for longer periods than others, depending on what moment I was living in each one. In the beginning I was attracted by the similarities between all of them, specially because they were so distant from each other. With time and different ways of producing the contrasts just started making more sense.
What made you decide living in Mexico City?
With Mexico City was different than every other one. It could have been any city in the world really. I was working on a video project that aimed to create a bridge between two opposite moments in an artist’s life. The goal was to do it without any previous form of contact (e-mails, phone calls, social media..). In one moment the artist is still anonymous and the other one he is a respected and acclaimed name. I was the anonymous one and the other was living in Mexico City, and that’s why I moved. The video would show the whole path until finding that artist. It took me two years to find him. In Mexico City I discovered an exciting art scene in a place that was really emerging, with a lot of exciting projects, artists creating interesting and new work and independent spaces that gave the city a new dynamic. (NoSpace, Bikini Wax, Lodos, Lulu) I have been living there ever since.
How is your average day and how does that affect your studio practice?
The way I live the city and the every day actions are a big part of my work: the things I see, what I hear, where I go or who I speak with. Walking through the city is the gesture that synthesizes everything. It's from this gesture that the "city" an its inherent complexity enter the game. I am interested in the architectural, behavioural, social or aesthetic transformations. I go to the studio on a daily basis and all the information I absorb on the way is filtered, processed and somehow applied in the studio and in the work that I am on at that moment.
Do you also collect other artists work?
I think it is important and I always try to trade work with other artists. I don’t think I can call it a collection yet.
What future projects are you working on?
At the moment I am working on a group exhibition with Pedro Matos and Ricardo Passaporte for The Gallery Wrong Weather in Oporto, and I am also working on a video.
You will be soon exhibiting in Oporto, your first exhibition in your hometown since 2011, how do you feel about it?
It was something that I always wanted to do and the opportunity came with an interesting project. It is important to be part of the artistic scene in our own birth city and it is not always possible to show the work there. It’s different and challenging every time.
How do you see your work evolving in the future?
I always approach my practice in a very open way. Each work brings along the next one and I keep finding solutions throughout the process and development. Sometimes the work and primary focus change. It’s a mutating game that matures effortlessly.
Exclusive interview by Aujourd'hui.
Images courtesy of the artist.
Manuel Forte - www.manuelforte.net