Fortoul Brothers’ Solo Exhibition

Isaac and Gabriel Fortoul, two Colombian brothers born in New York, run a “nomadic gallery,” which travels from city to city, exhibiting the brothers’ artworks.

According to the 944 magazine, many of their artworks represent the positive and negative effects of being a Latino and growing up in the East.  In the exhibition, people can find prints, paintings, garments and sculptures that show how the arts are slowly converging into one.

The story of the gallery starts in 2001, with an unexpected turn of events. Gabriel Fortoul, who used to work in Wall Street, decided that working in finance wasn’t what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to do something different, something related to culture and art. During that time his brother Isaac had graduated from college, where he had studied graphic design. At this point the brothers had the idea to work with art, fashion, music, film and design, but they didn’t have the pieces yet to turn their dreams into reality.

“With a few bags, passion and ideas,” says Gabriel Fortoul, the brothers moved to Phoenix. They had saved some money and they knew this was the place where they were meant to be. The brothers fell in love with the small studios, the galleries and the First Fridays.

The gallery started in an apartment located in downtown Phoenix. One of their artist friends used his apartment as an art gallery and he offered to help the brothers create their first exhibition. After one month of preparation, the apartment/gallery was ready to the public. In two months, the show had become incredibly popular and the people enjoyed not only the art, but also the “crazy parties,” the bands and the music the brothers offered at the gallery.

However, after four years of doing the same, it all became routine and  the brothers wanted to try something different. The brothers decided to go back to New York and “experience something new prior to the show,” says Gabriel Fortoul.

The brothers came back to Phoenix in November to show people what they’ve been working on and to see their friends, other artists and the progress in the community. According to Gabriel, the most important step in their lives was to get their own place. Gabriel found a space in downtown Phoenix that had been empty for 15 years and he knew it was the perfect place for their exhibition.

The most surprising thing about the exhibition is the fact that the brothers do everything by themselves. They create artworks, design how the gallery is going to look, and promote their work; they are curators and artists at the same time. As Gabriel says, the whole gallery is “one piece of art,” and for this reason, all details are important.

In the gallery people can appreciate not only artworks, but also the sketches, which few artists show; people can observe the whole creative process since the gallery is also their studio; and most importantly, they can interact with the art and  the artists. After touring the gallery, visitors are invited to visit the store, where they can find shirts, masks, prints and notecards, among others.

The Fortoul Brothers’ Solo Exhibition exemplifies how throughout the years, art will inevitably continue to change and amaze us. Contemporary artists are challenging the definition of art, which shows how this discipline isn’t static, but it is constantly flowing and transforming itself in beautiful ways.

For the Fortoul brothers, the boundaries between disciplines are completely artificial, and therefore, they aren’t part of their creations. As the brothers mentioned in an interview for the Phoenix New Times, they are creating “a cultural entity encompassing art, music, fashion, film and design.” In the future, the brothers expect to keep growing and to continue experimenting with art.