Deep Play

Painting, performance, photography and sculpture are continuously weaved together to create Nico Krijno’s (b. 1981, South Africa) characteristic visual aesthetic; Intensely playful and deeply non-linear, his work sharply re-adjusts and questions what we perceive as a photograph. Situated on a rural farm outside of Cape Town, Krijno’s studio and house acts as both a secluded space of production and a source of often discarded material that he consequently transforms into his theatrical scenes. His work represents a sustained experiment into the perceived truth of the medium, a venture which is ever more relevant in today’s shifting image culture.  

In his visibly distinct way of working, Nico Krijno’s free flowing practice reflects an intricate and uninterrupted line of exploration; rather than adhering to the framework of separate, defined series, he continues to push his playful methods in new directions that sees old and new work combine into an unending path of photographic research. This is true for his newest renders of thinking, where echoes of patterns and shapes from past work can be observed whilst equally new objects, materials, structures and meanings vibrantly emerge. Despite such an ongoing process, Krijno sees the importance of publications as a way to manage, compile and bookend his prolific volumes of thoughts and work - a realisation that his recent work intends to take - before moving forward yet again.

Unrestricted to using any singular approach exclusively, Krijno’s photographs resemble an exuberant intersection of forms; found objects are painted, sculpted, placed together, set against colourful backdrops or removed from their original context before they are then heavily re-worked through digital tools. Whilst there are odes to the traditional genre of the still life, the result is a humorous abundance of visual information that dismantles and drastically repositions the boundaries of the still image. Here there is a persistent duality in the work; the temporal mise-en-scènes he constructs are decidedly three dimensional and hold tangible depth but these are then consciously flattened into photographic prints. This act casts aside previous scales and purpose, and alongside Krijno’s evident digital alterations, the entire piece is translated into something wholly different yet manages to retain a concrete sense of materiality.

Just as one element of Krijno’s work has been deciphered, another unidentifiable component arises, forcing viewers to constantly re-evaluate their understanding of the photograph as a whole. Readings and meanings are in perpetual motion where relationships between depth, surface and objects always fail to remain quiet. Krijno’s entire process revolves around his rural farm house and studio outside of Cape Town where this bountiful space is a necessity to the artist, giving him crucial time to dedicate to both work and family. Nature and the manmade are at odds in his work and although this fundamental context to his practice has the potential to be isolating, it acts as an important precursor to Krijno continually testing himself and the medium.