Raúl de Nieves
Tape, acetate, glitter, house paint, and wood
704 × 176 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Company Gallery, New York
De Nieves envisioned the sixty-foot mural installation, Basilio, to be mutable. In previous installations it has been suspended from the ceiling, however, here it traverses half the length of the exhibition as a wall. In his signature manner, de Nieves elevates inexpensive, everyday materials to appear extraordinary and luxurious. Colored acetate and tape have been formed into sixty-four individual panels, giving the impression of stained glass. Like the stained glass windows in Gothic cathedrals of late-medieval France, Basilio conveys a cosmological narrative. The ouroboros, the ancient Egyptian symbol of a snake eating its own tail, is a symbol of eternal cyclical renewal. In the center of the mural, de Nieves has configured the ouroboros into the twisted figure eight shape, representing the mathematical sign for infinity. Along the central meridian of the transparent collage, six images—each composed of four panels—showcase planetary forms in various degrees of orbit. The narrative of Saint George and the Dragon appears again in the mural’s lowest register, collapsing eternal cyclical time with Biblical time as well as narrative time. The time of the artist’s own family also enters these coordinates: Basilio is named after the artist’s maternal grandfather. When exhibited together with Fina—the ziggurat structure named for the artist’s mother—the installations introduce an idea of ancestral time to make a family portrait and assert the artist’s personal timeline within the universe.
–Risa Puleo, Curator