Installation view, Raúl de Nieves: The Treasure House of Memory, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 2021–22. Photo by Mel Taing.
Raúl de Nieves (b. 1983, Michoacán, Mexico) is a New York–based interdisciplinary artist, performer, and musician whose multifaceted practice ranges from stained-glass-style narrative paintings to animated performances, to densely adorned figurative sculptures encrusted with bangles, beads, bells, sequins, and other homespun materials. These opulent, joyful sculptures reference traditional costumes in Mexican culture and modes of dress from drag, ballroom, and queer club cultures, while also evoking religious processional attire and the outfits worn by circus performers. All of his works share a distinctive visual language that draws from Mexican craft traditions, religious iconography, mythology, and folktales to explore the transformational possibilities of adornment and the mutability of sexuality and identity. For the ICA, de Nieves is creating a body of interconnected works rooted in memory and exploring themes of personal transformation. The Treasure House of Memory expands the artist’s inventive adaptation of iconographic traditions inherited from the past through vibrant amalgamations of form and material rendered in an energetic and accessible visual language.