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Exhibition considers symbiosis between artist's solo sculptural work & collaborative performances
Installation view. Photo: Michael Lopez with Zachary Balber Photography.

NORTH MIAMI, FLA.- The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami reopened its doors to the public with the long-awaited unveiling of its exhibition, “Raúl de Nieves: Eternal Return and The Obsidian Heart,” curated Risa Puleo. Nieves and Puleo worked closely together to design the exhibition as an immersive experience in which individual sculptures, installations, and audio performances blend into a cohesive experience of the spiritual, familial, and self across time. The exhibition will be on display at MOCA through March 21, 2021.

“‘Eternal Return and The Obsidian Heart’ offers a holistic look at the ways in which Raúl de Nieves rejoins the spiritual with the material in contemporary consumer culture,” said Puleo. "The exhibition is the first to consider the relationship between de Nieves’ sculptural work and his solo and collaborative performances, and in doing so, it also offers a comprehensive view of the artist's practice."

At the center of the exhibition, is a life-size carousel circles endlessly in a performance of fantasy and delirium, referencing the cyclical time of Eternal Return: the idea that time is composed of a limited number of events that endlessly recur in different sequences and combinations. The exhibit also features a fourteen-foot tall by fifty-height-feet wide “stained glass" installation, Basilio, a Cosmic representation of time in colorful configurations of planets moving around the sun, which is itself depicted as it appears from earth at various moments of transit across the sky over the course of a year.

Multimedia artist, performer, and musician de Nieves was born in Michoacá, Mexico, in 1983 and today resides in Brooklyn, NY. He is inspired by memories from his childhood in his hometown, where public religious rituals and private devotional acts included elaborate costuming, performances, and theatrical components. He found his artistic voice in queer punk scenes in San Diego, San Francisco, and New York City.

For de Nieves, art-making is a related process of creating a mirror for one's self; a tool for reflection, and a means of externalizing an internal state in order to see possibilities for growth. His wide-ranging practice investigates notions of beauty and transformation. His elaborate and labor-intensive installations, sculptures, and paintings explore decadence, desire, and divinity across material, emotional and spiritual realms. Whether working in collaboration with other artists and musicians or as a solo practitioner, de Nieves articulates an aesthetic of abundance through an economy of means. Elaborate anthropomorphic figures shimmer and seduce from afar, but a closer look reveals that they are encrusted in beads, crystals, plastic jewels, sequins, cardboard, and other readily available items that the artist transforms through a laborious, ritual-like practice.

De Nieves’ recent solo exhibitions include showings at the Cleveland Museum of Art; Company Gallery in New York City; SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Ga.; Freedman Fitzpatrick in Los Angeles; and Apalazzo Gallery in Brescia, Italy. Additional group shows include those at K11 Art Foundation in Hong Kong; Swiss Institute in New York City; New Orleans Museum of Art; Museum of Arts and Design in New York City; Zabludowicz Collection in London; as well as two N.Y. events: the Whitney Biennial 2017 and MoMA PS1’s Greater New York 2015. He will exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston in Sept. 2021.

Risa Puleo is an independent curator. Her exhibition, “Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly,” was curated for Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts during her year as curator-in-residence. The exhibition traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; Blue Star Contemporary and Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, Texas; and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, Kan. Puleo’s exhibition, “Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the Justice System,” opened at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in 2018 and traveled to Tufts University Art Galleries in Medford, Mass., in 2020. Other exhibitions have been hosted by the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in New York City; Franklin Street Works in Stamford, Conn.; Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City, Mo., and others. She has written for Art in America, Art Papers, Art21, Asia Art Pacific, Hyperallergic, Modern Painters, and other art publications.

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