Ivan Forde (b. 1990) works across printmaking, digital animation, sound performance, and installation. Using a wide variety of photo-based and print-making processes (and more recently music and performance), Ivan Forde retells stories from epic poetry casting himself as every character. His non-linear versions of these time-worn tales open the possibility of new archetypes and alternative endings. By crafting his own unique mythology and inserting himself in historical narratives, he connects the personal to the universal and offers a transformative view of prevailing narratives in the broader culture.

Ivan’s latest series, Illumination (2016-2018), based on the Epic of Gilgamesh, explores multiplicity and diversity using the body, specifically black bodies, as both material and subject. Through various iterations — cyanotypes, silkscreens, and etchings — and at times veering into abstraction, he recreates the iconic hero’s journey with a modern sociopolitical subtext. For Fight (2015-2016), he depicts a similar hero/villain archetype in yet an another epic struggle this time borrowing the conventions of fantasy-horror video games like Mortal Kombat. Again utilizing various media — digital collage and animations — player one battles competing interpretations of his identity in ritualistic encounters, and in doing so, touches on questions about the wider perception of black bodies in virtual space. Other short-run, spin-off series like the Pearl King (2015-2016) about a jewel-obsessed demigod and his spaceship and Axis Mundi (2014) that imagines the initiation rites of young men into fictional societies, elaborate on certain recurring personae and tangential subplots. Earlier bodies of work like De I Section (2013-2014), whose title is a play on the word “dissection,” and Transformation (2012) about the the 17th century allegory, Paradise Lost, edge closer to surrealist self-portraits showing the artist in various states of metamorphosis. 

Ivan has been included in recent group exhibitions and performances at The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Whitney Museum of Art. He is also the recipient of numerous awards including the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans and the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, as well as residencies at the Lower East Side Printshop and Dustin Yellin’s Pioneer Works. He received his MFA from Columbia University and has a BA in Literature from SUNY Purchase College.

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