Born in a taxi on Yoyogi Street in Tokyo, Japan, John Yoyogi Fortes is a Filipino-American painter based in Sacramento. His paintings are often large scale explorations of self that lean towards a whimsical, dark and obscure world.
Fortes’ artwork has been exhibited throughout the U.S., Hawaii, Venezuela, Japan, the Philippines and Norway. His paintings are held in numerous private collections as well as the Asian American Art Centre in New York, the Nevada Museum of Art, the Triton Museum of Art and Crocker Art Museum in California. His work was included in the International Arts & Artists traveling exhibition, “Infinite Mirror; Images of American Identity.” The exhibition opened at Syracuse University in New York and traveled to museums and universities throughout the Eastern United States.
Fortes has received grants from the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission and a Visual Artist Fellowship from the California Arts Council. In 2004 John was awarded a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant. John was also nominated for the Alliance of Artists Communities, Vision from the New California Project in 2006 and 2007.
In 2018 John was accepted to participate in the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art's highly renowned Artist-in-Residence program, a three month residency in Omaha, Nebraska.
Ever since I decided to pursue art as a career, I’ve always been curious about who I was as an artist and my connection to the work. It wasn’t until I began painting about my father’s struggle with Alzheimer's and then using my Filipino background as a source to inform my art that I realized I was on this mysterious journey of self discovery.
The underlying theme of my artwork is self-examination, attempting to bridge my internal and external experiences shaped through a bi-cultural lens. In the context of my work, I view culture as an organic form that changes through the acquisition of new ideas and new imagery, much like immigrants accumulating material possessions, symbolic of their cultural assimilation.
In my paintings, the idea of assimilation presents itself as a littering of images and text that over time gain meaning, though nothing remains an absolute for me. From monkey faces, a racial slur directed at Filipino immigrants in the 1920s and 30s, to deconstructed figures and