May 15, 2018

Sacred Space

Artist Francisco Moreno attempts to recreate a bewildering encounter with the divine

When you see Chapel for the first time, you’ll be struck by the intricacy of its outer framework. Three-quarter-inch birch braces uniformly curve around a calculated series of wood panels. Inside you’ll find Francisco Moreno’s work in its most robust form.

The Dallas native spent roughly a year covering the walls with high-flow airbrush paint to create scenes reminiscent of ink drawings. The immersive art experience (and the meditative moment it provides) is a culmination of ideas that Moreno has gathered from, well, just about everywhere. Themes range from stock photography and Baroque theory, to the mechanics of turbines and human anatomy. Inspiration for the project came after Moreno visited Madrid’s Museo Nacional del Prado and saw the 12th century mural, Original Sin, The Hermitage of the Vera Cruz de Maderuelo.

“Imagine you’re an uneducated person from the Baroque period entering a cathedral for the first time,” he says. “You know nothing about religion, and you’re just overwhelmed. I want to feel overwhelmed.” Large-scale works are familiar territory for the Rhode Island School of Design alum. Previous projects include a living-room diorama with every surface painted in a collage of black-and-white images, and a performance piece involving a twelve-foot-tall mural and matching 1975 Datsun 280Z—doing donuts.

Moreno’s painting process is not super scientific, though the calculations to build the structure had to be. For help, he enlisted architect David Droese and his team, along with friends Kevin Ortiz and Jason Koen.

“Dali said, ‘Don’t worry about perfection; you’ll never reach it,’ or something like that,” Moreno says. “I wanted to paint it in a way that’s transparent, almost porous; I love that you can see such depth and instead of looking at it, you’re looking through it.” —Hilary Lau

The Details: Erin Cluley Gallery, 414 Fabrication Street. Join 1530 Main for a reception to meet the artist, Saturday, May 19. 1–3 p.m.