In the case of Enrique Mora (Mora) it is a combination of faith, fate, and determination. Born in the vibrant city of San Juan, Puerto Rico on an April day in 1967, Mora was the child of a deeply spiritual mother and an inspirational father who pursued music, sculpture and painting with passion. Before Mora was born, his mother would sit close to her husband’s percussive instruments while he played music to the unborn artist. Mora was born with the rhythm of the islands in his soul and parents eager to nurture the creative painter that is now Mora the man. By the time Mora was five, his father had established the eponymous Galeria Mora in San Juan. From this early age, Mora was surrounded by aspiring and established artists who presented their works in the gallery. Many days were spent socializing with the role models of his future as the young Mora worked in the gallery doing chores, sweeping and most importantly, experimenting with the paint that would color his destiny.
Yet this happy story was almost destroyed by tragedy. After graduating high school and beginning his studies at university, Mora was attacked by a group of vicious robbers in Old San Juan. They clubbed him nearly to death, fracturing his skull and jaw. Miraculously, he survived. It was during the convalescence from this harrowing event that an epiphany would occur. Despite the encouragement of many influential people in his life to follow a path through college to a business career, Mora decided to devote his life to the work of his soul, to be an artist. To be an artist, he reasoned he must go to the United States to gain perspective and opportunity, but this also meant leaving the support system in Puerto Rico. He would leave his island, but he would do so on his own. A friend in Florida suggested he come to Jacksonville, a small city in northern Florida, as she had a friend who owned a restaurant and Mora could work there as he continued to paint and study.
So Mora left Puerto Rico and fate would once again intervene. Mora painted during the day and worked in the restaurant every night. The restaurant specials for the day were displayed on a large chalkboard. Mora asked the owner one day if he might draw the display on the chalkboard and the owner said yes. There, on that chalkboard, the United States first saw the work of Mora. The owner was astounded: You must do the chalkboard every night, whatever you like. Your talent is amazing. The customers were equally impressed. Within a few weeks, Mora had already been commissioned by a local gallery owner to present in his space. The United States had discovered the young artist and wanted more. He was quickly offered a full grant to a local college to pursue his studies; the local Jacksonville Art Community celebrated his talent in all the better galleries. Commissions began arriving from as far away as San Francisco and Seattle. But Mora knew he needed to move to continue his artistic development. In the early nineties if you wanted to aspire as an artist there was no better place than Miami, Florida. The burgeoning South Beach Movement was attracting talent from the world over, like a Latin Paris of 80 years earlier. It was in this milieu that Mora would truly mature through learning, painting, refining and eventually opening his own gallery.
Fifteen years later, Mora found himself immersed in his art and the struggle to get to that place where the paint on the canvas would represent the passion for life that was so much a part of his very being. Even as demand for his work was increased, with successful shows as far away as Germany and the Caribbean, Mora still seeks to define his particular vision with his dedication to painting. Much as been said about him in the media; in newspapers, magazines and television with his work being compared to such groundbreaking artists as the Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo, Modigliani and Picasso, but at the end of each day, Mora is left with Mora. It is he who sees his own future. It is he who hears the rhythm of his island he heard so long ago in his mother’s womb and translates these rhythms into the paintings we see before us. If in his so doing, we are touched with questions of our own birth and life and destiny, it is our good fortune. A good fortune Mora is happy to share with us.
It is difficult to put in time frame the influences and forces contributing to my work, however, I thank God for the talent and my father for a lifetime of art lessons.