The painting depicts Saints Mark, George, and Nicholas saving Venice from a squall generated by a ship pirated by a group of demons. In order to dispel the demonic possession and save Venice from disastrous floods, St. Mark enlists an aged boats man to row him into the storm, and with the remaining two saints, engages the devils in combat. The painting represents the climax of the narrative, the moment of confrontation between the demons and the Saints.
Pacheco’s appropriation of the painting’s fragment echoes not only the subject of a work’s authorship, which in this case is divided between two painters (Palma Vecchio has completed the painting after Bordon’s death) but also, the construction and appropriation of subject matter throughout history. By borrowing motives from the history of painting, Pacheco looks at how the painterly gesture, the color pallet, composition, or fragmentation influences the construction of narrative and how images are depicted and perceived through time. By abstracting the motive from its initial context, enlarging, and distorting it, by removing some of its elements, or juxtaposing it against another image, Pacheco points to the impermanence of painting, where interpretation and a work’s reading is in constant flux. It is based on an associative chain, where one thing leads to another, and where content is created through rhizomatic structures, rather than through a linear approach to narrative.