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In old Tibet, it was considered that childhood ended at seven years old. Shie Moreno, born in Havana, Cuba, in 1971, recounts a those early years in his book, OGBÖN (No Romance Galleries), in a conversation with Julie Martin, observing, “Growing up in Cuba, I was surrounded by plenty of folklore and visuals. While playing with other kids on the block, we always tried building and creating an imaginary world. My father was the creative director for he Carnivals, making sure all the floats were ready for the parade. He would bring me along o these events, so I was always around creative people.”

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Growing up in the throes of a Stalinist period amid the decaying splendor of a once grand city, Moreno’s childhood came to an end abruptly when, in 1980 at eight years old, he endured a crowded nightmare passage forever known as the Mariel boatlift. His family moved to Los Angeles, then later returned to Miami. Moreno’s bio notes, “The harsh bright light of the tropics, the intensity of color, the forced blindness of night in a crowded vessel, the elements, the sense of drifting and of place, all served to forge the sensibility of the artist. A fascination with iconography, calligraphy, and the strength of titles is also present in his work. He strives for the clarity of ‘morning water drawn from an undisturbed spring.'” The phrases and deeper meaning of Yoruba spirituality as lived by the Lukumi sing through his life, as evidenced by the book title, OGBÖN, which is the Yoruba word for “wisdom.”

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Moreno observes,”I believe spirituality and religion reside in our inner core to pacify our mind and our soul; a personal relationship one must nourish in order to manifest our actions on eath. It’s all indigenous Technology to me. This concept allows my ideas to freely flow onto canvas.” Moreno works with paint, collage, tar, marker, wax, aerosol, keepsakes, and even fire to create a surface effect on canvas, wood, paper, or glass.

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He notes, “Painting became an outlet, but I feel like it’s been there since my youth. I was recently told by my grandmother that I used to draw all the time instead of doing homework and would hide my drawings underneath schoolwork. Residing in Los Angeles from 1980–1987, I was influenced by writing on the walls and large scale murals all around me. In 1981, impacted by the Hip Hop culture in all its aspects, I quickly gravitated to the letter form style which had an impact on my work. Writing and exploring ways to adorn letterforms in a way that fives them life and movement is the second language I learned.”

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Published as a numbered edition of 150, and an AP edition of 50, OGBÖN includes forty paintings created between 1999–2014.

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For more information visit Shie Moreno
Artwork courtesy of No Romance Galleries

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