Artist Interviews 2023

Gabriel Moreno  
By Laura Siebold

Gabriel Moreno is an illustrator who translates his perception of female beauty into art by creating expressive, contemporary large-scale drawings. His mixed media art consists of different layers that portray elements of luxury, lust, addiction, and other taboo themes in society that add to the power of Gabriel Moreno’s “Queens” portraits. Read on to learn more about the artist’s throughts on art as a revolution, as well as tattoos, and the importance of artistic hunger, and discover more about his art.

Can you tell us about your early beginnings in the art world? Was there a specific moment in your life when you identified yourself as an artist?

I never had the ability, the patience to study, but I can spend all night drawing. That's not a sacrifice for me. Drawing is the reward. My earliest childhood memory is of me in a black tracksuit, filling it up with drawings of Spiderman and superheroes with a black Bic pen. From the moment my pencil touched the paper, everything changed. All children draw, the question is who continues. I never stopped. The others got bored and moved on.

Can you please try to describe your art in three words? Please go into detail about why you chose those three words.

I would not be a good art teacher, my process is not very intellectual. The creation in me is more with the stomach than with the head, at the University of Fine Arts they forced me to make sketches... I did them after the final work. Contrast: Contrast is the essence of drawing, but also of life. I work a lot in my technical work on the contrast of light and shadow, on the beauty of the female figure and Russian prison tattoos, and on the contrast between glamor and the vulgar. Beauty: I know that art does not have to be pretty, beautiful... but the art that I want to see, the one that I want to do, is the one that makes the viewer fall in love. Femininity: My entire artistic world revolves around the female figure, it is what I know how to do, I have the ability to express emotions with the face of a woman that I do not have with other elements.

Your webpage states about your work “My work emerges from a hypersensitivity to the beauty of the female figure, as an attempt to preserve its essence.” – In what ways does this hypersensitivity to female beauty manifest itself for you and how do you translate it into your work?

All my life I have been observing women, I have been surrounded by women, they are my first memories, I fell in love not only in kindergarten, but also [with] every story I read, cartoon movie, or comic... one day I wanted to create that thing myself that I constantly fell in love with, that's how I started drawing.

How did you develop your unique style, starting with pencil drawings or clay, and adding tattoos as a second layer to the female skin? How do you choose the tattoos you add to your portraits?

It is not you who chooses the technique, the technique chooses you, I have always felt more comfortable with drawing, the contrast and drama that you can express with lines. The first thing is to think about the concept; truth is, that takes the most time... Then, I create the composition in the photograph with different elements and play with the model's poses. I draw using mixed media, using pencil for the body and blue ink for the tattoos, and then I mix different types of varnish; I like the result because it has a very particular texture. With the tattoos, it's curious but they are actually the first layer, like the origin of everything, each tattoo comes from real Russian criminals, and I think they are the basis of each "Queen's" personality, and emphasizes the contrast with the beauty of the model. In this work, the process is continuous, but more than a routine process, it's a creative work every day, seriously every day.

You depict women at various stages of life and situations in your work, adding certain elements of wealth (like the crown or dollar bills), lust (like a cigarette), or cravings (like chips), symbolizing themes like seduction and obsession. How do you create a story for each image and how do you wish your art to be received by your audience?

Every element you mention has a taboo, and a taboo for me is like a war with morality, but when it is taken by a woman, it transforms into power, and for me, this great fact implies great value, that's why I call them "Queens." Regarding how the audience receives my art, more than receiving, I hope they experience emotions that stay alive, each human being experiences them from the eyes of totally different contexts, and I respect that.

How important is color for your work? How does color change the theme of your paintings? What do your gold embellishments add to your paintings?

It's strange to explain, but color isn't everything, yet it's the perfect companion to shadows, as it dramatically contrasts the darks, making details a powerful composition. While a large part of the pop elements express luxury, the gold embellishments enhance this effect in the works, expressing extravagance.

In your eyes - can art initiate social and cultural change? How is art able to transcend the limits of human awareness?

We live in an entertainment society, all the stimuli we receive are to entertain us, to keep us asleep. Everything that wakes us up, makes us feel uncomfortable, is a small revolution... art is one of them

You recently exhibited at art Miami in the U.S., presented by Galeries Bartoux (@lesgaleriesbartoux). What do you like about exhibiting internationally? What is your ultimate goal as an artist?

"International" is a common word these days because it happens everywhere, but the fact that people on the other side of the world are experiencing your works means that "literally" I am traveling all over the world, so I like it, I really like it. The Pieta I at Art Miami has been one of my most complex works.

What is the project you are most proud of to this day and why?

"El hombre de mil caras". I actually draw because I have no talent for acting or directing, making a project for the world of cinema, and with as much recognition as it was, this was a dream.

We are curious about future projects. What are you currently working on? What kind of advice do you have for newly emerging artists to broaden the exposure of their art?

My work is based on drawing and is realistic. In my latest creations, I am trying to escape from that, to add a more abstract and less controlled element with more material and color. Integrating elements such as acrylic paint, graphite, and textures are part of a continuous evolution, and it's a fun process. As for advice for new talents, I dare not give any, but I will say what I tell myself every morning: Wake up hungry every day, for an artist, the word monotony is very dangerous.

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