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Raúl de Nieves: Fina

The Mexican-born artist transforms humble materials intospectacular objects
Emily Liebert, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art
December 20, 2018

Day(Ves) of Wonder 2007–14. Raúl de Nieves (Mexican, b. 1983). Mixed media; 100.3 x 58.4 x 43.2 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Company Gallery, New York

Through processes of accumulation, Raúl de Nieves transforms humble materials into spectacular objects, which he integrates into the space around them to create immersive narrative environments. For Raúl de Nieves: Fina, his first solo museum exhibition, de Nieves pre-sents a new site-specific installation: figurative sculptures populate a central mirrored structure, bathed in dramatic light, in Transformer Station’s soaring main gallery. Narrative facets of Fina are informed by the artist’s heritage considered through this moment in history.

De Nieves, who lives in New York, traces his artistic practice back to Mexico. At school and alongside family members, he learned traditional Latin American sewing and beadwork, which now permeate his art. His most vivid childhood memories relate to what he describes as a “lifestyle of making,” in which basic material production was a part of everyday rhythms.

At age nine, de Nieves immigrated to San Diego with his mother and two brothers. He considers his art a celebration of the values—faith, perseverance, transformation, and community—that were at the heart of his family’s journey. He honors this heritage by naming the show after his mother, Josefina.  

De Nieves has presented solo projects and performances at the Kitchen and the Watermill Center in New York (both 2017) and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia (2016). He has also participated in major contemporary art surveys, including Documenta 14 (2018), Whitney Biennial (2017), and Greater New York (2015) at MoMA PS1. Currently his work is part of the Swiss Institute for Contemporary Art’s inaugural exhibition in its new building that opened in New York last summer.   


Cleveland Art, January/February 2019