Raúl de Nieves
St. George and the Dragon, 2003-2005
Beginning in 2003, De Nieves began painting images of Saint George slaying a dragon, often returning to the motif to reinterpret its iconography across dozens of paintings and drawings. In revisiting this scene, Saint George embodied the role of a teacher for de Nieves, conveying lessons about how to paint, how to move across styles, and how to think through the various ways of constructing narrative. This continuous return to the same image also allowed the artist to rescript the iconic story. George is a saint who gained popularity during the crusade period of the Middle Ages and symbolizes the defeat of anyone who challenged Christian authority, represented by the figure of the slain dragon. For de Nieves, Saint George is emblematic of a belief in change and the act of courage articulated in “slaying one’s dragons.” In de Nieves’ interpretation of the allegory, all parts of the story—figures, objects, and emotions—convey meaning. And like tarot, each visual detail offers a positionality with specific characteristics: the opposing roles of the heroic saint and villainized dragon, the weaponized sword; the emotion of fear that drives the blade; the physical force that compels the violent act; and the future of the city that surrounds the scene, all work as ways to see the self. In this version of St. George and the Dragon, each of these different aspects of the story has been set in motion across a rainbow of color.
–Risa Puleo, Curator