Nico Krijno

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Nico Krijno (born 1981) is part of an international wave of contemporary artists working to establish a new visual language for the still life in the information age. His photographs show a playful concern with the deconstruction of the still life genre. His ongoing exploration of form and material reveal his deeper interest in photographic truthfulness.

Early Life

Nico Krijno was born in 1981 and grew up in the small town of Somerset East in South Africa, nestled at the foot of the Boschberg Mountains. He attended art school in Pretoria before moving to Cape Town aged nineteen. In his first years in Cape Town Krijno studied film making, originally setting his sights on being a film director. Having worked in film and theatre for several years Krijno made the transition to photography in 2008.

Photographic Career

Krijno’s photographic practice absorbed the intuitive and exploratory methods he honed as a filmmaker. His works primarily deal with process and the relationship between photography and performance. His time spent working in the film and theatre industries gave him a physical understanding of movement and balance.

Krijno frequently works in the genre of still life and has successfully established an exciting new visual language for the genre relevant for the information age. In his works, the visual tropes of the still life genre are deconstructed and pieced back together in unexpected and witty ways. Krijno’s playful re-evaluation of the tableau tradition is a theme that continues throughout his works, particularly in his reframing of disposable materials, such as wooden veneer, bungee cords, plastic washing baskets and brooms. The accoutrements of daily life he uses, often mundane or kitsch, give a wry nod to the banality and increasing homogeneity of our modern constructed world.

The subjects of Krijno’s modern still lifes are often temporary, unstable constructions, made of primarily overlooked or disposable objects. They are structures created only to be photographed; often toppling or falling to pieces the moment the shutter clicks. Krijno describes the process of photographing these ephemeral structures as a private physical performance, with the camera being the audience . Photographed in Krijno’s studio, his still lifes are subsequently digitally re-worked. Krijno is particularly interested in the transformative power of the photograph to flatten space and confuse perspective, and uses digital manipulation to heighten these factors. Component parts are spliced together in Photoshop, scale is altered, and negative spaces made entirely solid.

More recently, Krijno’s works have referenced stage set-design and intricate theatrical illusions. They are playful and sharp, characterised by their interplay of contrasting images and textures, of volume and form. His ongoing exploration of illusion, both of pictorial surface and material, reveal the artist’s deeper interest in photographic truthfulness . His digital alterations unfix the picture plane, referencing the instability of truthfulness as a concept in the age of the Internet.

Krijno has also described the influence of his home country on his work, stating South Africa, as a site of creativity, brings a unique surface, texture and frequency, and a specific raw and violent beauty, to the production of aesthetic images. The undulating and oscillating colourful surfaces of Krijno’s photographs seem to spill directly from the unique energy of the creator’s homeland.

Exhibitions and Awards

Nico Krijno’s work has been included in over 20 exhibitions across Europe, South Africa and the US. He was nominated for the Paul Huf Award in 2015 and selected as a Foam Talent in 2016. His limited-edition book Synonym Study was shortlisted for the Paris Photo Aperture Foundation Awards First Photobook Prize in 2014.

News and Press

10th Mar 2018

Nico Krijno’s Deconstructed Still Lifes