========== Felicia Forte :: Adorabilis ==========


The first time I saw Adorabilis was akin to being awakened by a ‘sun shower’ in a utopian garden of glorious colour and bounty! 

An immediate connection was felt to the idiosyncratic forms and devolutions of colour synthesised to the fluid geometries – triumphantly rich and evocative: floating, solid weightlessness!


Recalling 2017 three month Redbull Art Residency, Forte said,

During the residency, I initially brought my Grandmother’s blanket in for comfort.

Still, Forte became interested in painting the blanket and tried a few things, including having one of the other artists in the residency programme pose with it across his shoulders.  Although she didn’t like the outcome, she did a number of paintings trying for the breakthrough.  In the end, having decided to move on, it was dumped on a chair.  The crumpled form on the chair inspired her, and resulted in arriving at ‘how to do all the Afghans’.

Afghan Abstracted – Black No 2, oil on paper, 10 x 10” (25 x 25cm)


Additionally, throughout this period, the artist’s discipline impelled her to

…exercise very careful observation of subtle colour change and change of value in paintings.


Afghan – Abstracted Sea Foam, oil on paper, 10 x 10” (25 x 25cm)

One of the captivating aspects of these works is the textual or visual ambiguity.  Forte refers to seafoam in one of her titles, and while this group of works has the soft burred edges they are definitively sculptural: ice-cream & plaster; seafoam & meringue; clay & chalk.
Moreover, in Abstracted Seafoam and Adorabilis for example, there are paintings within paintings or musings within musings. Tangents of possibility playing out coherently within the single work.


Felicia Forte, Adorabilis, oil on canvas, 36 x 36” (91.4 x 91.4cm)
In the hands of an adept colourist like Forte, the ‘tonal range’ is boundless, allowing for the stunning contradiction of ‘flat depth’ and a ‘certain solid malleability’.  I am put in mind of Jesse Murry, 

If there is a general theme or idea concerning my work, beyond the delight in color or form, it is to create a space in which the viewer can be as creative in looking as I am when I am painting. There is plenty of space for the viewer to actively participate with his imagination, but initially he is grabbed by color and its magical capacity to shape a world.

Jesse Murry, in a statement accompanying his exhibition at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 1984


 Alina Cohen said in 2019:

The art world…[is] seeking more spiritual, transcendent art-viewing experiences. We’ll all be talking and thinking about abstraction again.


The accompanying quotes by Cohen and the artist respectively. resonate when the viewer contemplates the work, observing the intricately refined hues and tones: not only witnessing but ‘feeling the sensual touch’ of the artist.

Felicia Forte, Spectre, oil on canvas, 58 x 70” (147.3 x 177.8cm)


I like paint or the act or process of painting, want to see it, to stretch its range…

The infinite possibilities of paint, colour and texture are revealed by the hand of a seasoned painter.

Whilst resembling the ‘plump fabric’ of Grandmother’s blanket, yet more sculptural, the joy is in the delicacy of Forte’s signature style and presence: the pure beauty of paint evoking emotional responses, both synchronised to and emanating from what we know to be merely marks, hues and forms abstracted from a representational starting point.


In the 21st century, artists may freely choose to work in the style that suits them best. They may utilize any number of visual idioms, often within the parameters of a single artwork.
Also in Blurring the Line Between Figuration and Abstraction Maria Doubrovskaia says
…it was not until Wassily Kandinsky and his 1912 book “On the Spiritual in Art” that abstraction really entered the arena of Modern art. In his treatise, Kandinsky outlined what he viewed as the mission of the abstract artist: to transcend the ancient tradition of mimesis in order to represent a truer, more spiritual, invisible reality. Kandinsky’s detailed discussion of the abstract “vocabulary”: color, line, dots, shapes, and composition on a flat surface, serve as a manual of abstraction to this day.


The colours and transitions evoke a sensuality that evolves from a deep well of practice commitment, connection and skill. 
A nuanced pathway producing both delicate and complex variations on value and colour.  
The fact that these works appear not to represent ‘anything in particular’ and yet are recognisable as transitioning from the blanket in some form, suggests that on one level they are intuitive.

Adorabilis detail

Adorabilis detail

Intuition feeds into the discussion around the separation of figurative from abstract art (is there any such thing as pure abstraction), one which remains problematic. Not least because of the way our imagination operates – we visually picture everything – a word, person or object.

Whilst the viewer can observe the artist investigating the space between representation and abstraction, the visual image of Forte’s Grandmother’s blanket remains at the core. The possibility of abstraction to opportunistically ‘refer to something in the outside world’, because of the propensity of our mind to visualise in pictures and make connections cannot be ignored. It is arguably authenticated here in the titles Forte has given the works.

From opportunism springs the unknown or the un-premeditated and therefore originality.


In conclusion, the mesmerising & evocative colour formations by this San Francisco based artist evoke light and freshness; blue skies, abundant flora; sunshine, the ocean – and the whole of nature tied to the joy of painting. A talented master whose paintings, like nature, keep drawing you back for a fresh experience!


Click on the images for greater definition!


Like many noteworthy artists before her, Forte attended the Art Students League in New York where she participated in a long tradition of teaching and practising which included many of America’s most canonical artists, such as Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hoffman, and Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, and Cy Twombly, to name a mere few. 

Art Students League New York

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