Detroit native Mario Moore’s exhibit, “Enshrined: Presence + Preservation” features Black Americans living and moving about in daily life.
Photo provided by Charles H. Wright
Staring back at you are Black figures, people from different time periods, casually going about life, at times their gaze indifferent.
But they still draw you into their world: at a diner, lounging outside, reading a book or walking on the street.
These everyday colorful, and stoic, characters are all part of artist Mario Moore’s latest exhibition, “The Art of Mario Moore,” running now through September 19 at the Charles H. Wright Museum.
The exhibition, “Enshrined: Presence + Preservation”, shows the Detroit native’s love of recognizing individuals “who are within reach—presenting their labor and their leisure,” according to the museum. “He encourages us to question who is deserving of portraiture and thus preservation.”
The show pulls together several dozen works of art from Moore’s early as well as his present-day career.
“I’m really humbled by and super excited about the opening,” Moore said of the show and opening. He added that his work was produced over the last 11 years. “[It is] really interesting to see pieces done in 2010 sitting next to works done in 2020 — that is really what I’m most excited about this show, to look at my work over time and the way it was curated.”
Also included in “Enshrined” are paintings from his most recent body of work, “The Work of Several Lifetimes” (2019), which was created with the support of Princeton University’s esteemed Hodder Fellowship.
His paintings of people typically showcase his subjects standing tall, “offering stern and confident gazes toward the viewer, while perpetuating a presence of primacy without regalia,” according to the Wright.
This form of depiction puts Moore’s style of portraiture within the hallowed territory of works by figurative artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Barkley Hendricks, and one of his earliest painter influences, Diego Velazquez. “Enshrined” makes way for Moore’s desire to put the economies of social order within Black American life on the map.
Moore added that some of his works have never been seen before locally.
“Some of these works … haven’t been viewed for a long time — two of the works have been in a collection in Puerto Rico since 2011-12,” he said.
Moore said that he is adamant about the way he paints, what materials he uses and how he has developed his technique over time.
“I can see the difference in something I painted in 2010 and 2020 — a kind of development as an artist and my technique.”
He also said that it can be “weird” to go back and be “acquainted” with his work from previous years, which he described as reconnecting with an “old friend” that he hadn’t seen in a long time.
“Seeing that friend again [is like], ‘Oh, that is where I was then,’” he said adding that his job is to paint every day.
“As an artist I’m in the studio every day. “I’m always working on multiple pieces at a time; keeps me engaged.”
Moore, who works on oil paintings, said that he chooses his subjects based on inspiration.
“Subjects are really chosen just living and experiencing — a lot has to do with reading and things that I find, and it depends on the year that I made the work,” he said. “I’m always doing research that usually comes into my work and what I do is find people to find the work that I’m working on.”
For more information visit https://www.thewright.org/exhibitions/enshrined-presence-preservation.