I think one of the most fun studio visits that I have ever done was when I went to see Raul de Nieves’s space in Brooklyn. Raul, who was born in Mexico but moved to California when he was 9, is hilarious, brilliant, confident, multi-layered and multi-talented in a very special way.
The first time I saw his work was last year in a beautiful editorial piece in W Magazine and from then on, I stumbled upon his pieces quite often. He is well-known for his beaded sculpture shoes, which Lady Gaga has worn, Carine Roitfeld requested to have in his editorials and Karl Lagerfeld photographed. Last year he also had an extraordinary show with Loyal Gallery in Sweden, his shoes prominently displayed in the middle of the gallery, on top of regal mirror pedestals. And a couple of weeks ago, I saw the show “Makers” at the MAD Museum and his gorgeous shoe sculptures were there too.
But Raul doesn't stop with the sculpture: he creates the most intricate works on paper, masterfully commanding brush and gouache. His latest series is all inspired by the story of Saint George slaying the dragon. For Raul, it represents religious iconography but also “the dragon is this force of nature and both symbols, including Saint George, are present in a variety of different faiths”. The vast amount of details in each piece of paper is quite astonishing and Raul is also working on a canvas triptych where layer upon layer of oil paint, he intends to keep exploring the same concept.
The work of Raul is bold and fearless, dramatic and poetic. He is also a performer, where oftentimes he will wear his shoe sculptures and elaborate costumes that he creates for himself. He has a band called Haribo and recently wrapped up acting on an indie film shot in Puerto Rico. As if all of this wasn't enough, Raul can also work with knits, and after learning how to crochet from his mom, he has created the most outstanding sweater-dresses, pieces that could be displayed side-by-side with those of Rodarte and Comme des Garçons.
His work will also be a part of the upcoming show at the MAD Museum “New Territories” and has some performances aligned in conjunction with the exhibition program. I was so fascinated by Raul’s work that I’m dying to see what he is going to come up with next. I’m pretty sure that it will be unique, mind-blowing and crazy genius, like he is.