Raúl de Nieves gives us a tour of his bedazzled carousel of complicated creatures in Miami

Published December 5, 2018

Raúl de Nieves working on his Carousel at Faena Hotel. Photograph by Rodrigo Gaya

Emotion and intuition are the two main components of Raúl de Nieves’s sculptures. The Mexican-American artist has been pushing past whatever it is we consider to be “sculpture” with constructions fashioned from  beads, cardboard, and costume jewelry. During this week’s Art Basel Miami Beach, De Nieves is letting his imagination run wild — in circles, in fact— by creating a large-scale carousel of beaded and magical creatures as inspired by the mythical figure of the snake in Bvlgari’s Serpenti collection.

In the lead up to its unveiling at the Faena Hotel in Miami (where it will be on display from December 5th to 10th), De Nieves gave us a three-part breakdown of his carousel sculpture, titled “When I look in to Your Eyes I See the Sun.”

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On The Snake 

“Bvlgari wanted to allocate an artist to make a large-scale project that could somehow be tied in with the mythology of the serpent, which is an iconic symbol in their jewelry. I had often worked with serpents, so it just felt natural to me to develop this mythological idea into what the carousel has become. Snakes often get a bad rep, but I believe they’re about eternity, and regeneration, and love. A snake can shed its skin and regrow, so I find it to be a beautiful symbol of eternity.”

On The Horses-Slash-Unicorns and Their Friends 

“The snake-like dragon in the carousel is cut into pieces, and in general, the carousel deals with stages of life. By spinning, it generates more and more information as it keeps going. Its two main characters are these human-like figures. Then there are the horses, which are really horses-slash-unicorns-slash-ponies-slash-almost-dogs. There’s a kind of magic that happens when you’re inside of this experience, where there’s an overwhelming dizzying feeling and you create these scenarios in your head that belong only to whoever is riding.”

“When I look in to Your Eyes I See the Sun” by Raul de Nieves on display at Faena Hotel. Photograph by Rodrigo Gaya

On the Meaning of a Circle

“A lot of my work is centered on the idea of circle, and how a circle doesn’t have a beginning or an end. Today, I was talking to these people who were working and they were like, ‘Can we ask what the carousel is about?’ And I immediately was just like, ‘It’s about the journey of life and being chained to specific things that are holding us back.’ And the guy freaked out, and was like, ‘That’s exactly what we were saying!’ That’s a really beautiful thing, because for all people who make work, they just want to transcend themselves through experiences and make those experiences available for other people.”