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     Nico Krijno


...Non Linear Deep Play

Nico Krijno
Cape Town, South Africa
Photographic Inventory site:
         2011 — 2018

What is a photographic synonym? Can one image stand in for another? How do these subtle slips of meaning and understanding, so fundamental to language, work visually? For South African artist Nico Krijno, the game of comparing, translating, and constructing affinities plays out in buoyant pictures arranged in whimsical sequences. Fresh tropical flowers are set against busy textiles, mismatched rotary telephones sit playfully, like interlocking slinkys, on concrete steps, and the stripes and folds of fabric playfully echo the watery surface of an aqua blue pool. When gathered together in books, including Synonym Study (2014) and New Gestures (2016), their experimental energy shows a manic attention to the contiguities of perception, and leaves much for the eye to linger over and around—exuberant colors, clashes of textures and patterns, unlikely juxtapositions, and visual paradoxes that twist our sense of logic and perception.

There have been fires in the countryside around the farmhouse, outside Cape Town, where Krijno lives with his wife and two-year-old daughter. It means, Krijno told me, that they’ve been up nights, forced to evacuate when the danger comes too close. Yet he also describes an idyllic picture of life there, slower and more connected to nature, for his young family. Krijno works mainly out of a small studio on the property, enough room to erect the makeshift sculptures that often serve as inspiration for his photographic work. It’s hard not to conjure the old metaphor of the artist’s studio as a stand-in for the inner workings of the mind—a place for pouring out a mess of ideas and eventually building something coherent. His subjects—whether physical objects or digital constructions—appear precarious and fleeting, almost tragically insufficient, changing shape as elements shift and settle, or even fall apart altogether, only to be rebuilt anew, as mash-ups of themselves. And, as images amass, their component parts—material, formal, graphic—reappear, recycled and repurposed in new combinations.

A sense of physical place comes through in the bodily relation and attentiveness to the objects Krijno drudges up, and in the “found” sculpture they’re often set against: seemingly banal elements, like fences or dilapidated buildings chanced on in the surrounding landscape, sometimes flattened or repeated as obvious digital motifs. They are emphatic responses to immediate surroundings, yet they bare little direct relation to geographic specificity. As flattened photographs, they collapse instead into peripatetic and lustrous surfaces, clean and sleek and easy to circulate. With a background in theater and film, Krijno is more inclined to invent new worlds than record this one. His imaginative transformations resonate with an international network of young artists exploring the overlaps and interconnections among photography, sculpture, and performance. It’s not surprising, then, that Krijno finds his community online, rather than in his own backyard, where images float loose in the apex of constructed image-worlds.

Sara Knelman is a writer, curator, and lecturer living in Toronto

Current Research:  Reference material from the studio floor - rephotographed


Studio Wellington, South Africa
send me a mail +27 836552543


The Ravestijn Gallery
Westerdoksdijk 603-A
1013 BX  Amsterdam
The Netherlands
+31 6 1651 0221


Florence Moll


96 rue de la Victoire


Paris - France

+33 (0) 1 48 78 38 38


Nico Krijno is a contemporary artist who explores photography, at the blurry intersection of collage, painting, sculpture and performance.  Probing the boundaries of each, resulting in unique abstractions:    An intertextual dialogue opens up between his artworks, and allows for a surprising tone to the assemblage. Krijno describes the process of photographing these ephemeral structures as a private physical performance, with the camera being the audience.

born in Somerset West, South Africa in 1981  
currently lives and works on a farm in Wellington, South Africa

I am deeply fascinated by the tension I sense beneath the surface of things, particularly that which underlies the everyday and the mundane.  I want to show that the truth is not something simple, that there are not always clear and definitive answers. So, sometimes by showing things out of context or by marrying opposites I try to force a conversation that combines irony and humour. To this end, editing and presentation are crucial in placing nature and our constructed world either in harmony or at odds.

With a background in theatre and experimental video, Nico Krijno switched camps to the field of visual arts around 2008. His performance-based photographic practice is realised in a variety of media, from sculpture, participatory installation and video.

  1. im not interested in hunting for the perfect moment.  
  2. I use photography to create new worlds within my perceived reality, and to ask questions about photography and representation.
  3. I use analogue and digital tools to create my work, and explain the world to myself - i also use the clone stamp and the lasso tool.
  4. instead of capturing emotion i would rather like to evoke an emotional response within the viewer that is strangely familiar.
  5. Trompe-l'œil
  6. i do not work in linear series, but instead in one continuous and interwoven body of work.
  7. im not just interested in whats infront of the camera, but also what lies behind, underneath and just to the side of the frame. 
  8. This is also a lie.
  9. My work is inside my body.
  10. i use the tools of photography, sculpture and painting to create my art.
  11. i can cite direct influences as coming from photographers, Michael Schmidt, Roe Ethridge, John Divola, Lucas Blalock and Robert Cumming.
  12. An image taken with a smartphone is just as important as an image taken on a large format film camera.
  13. I use what i find lying ‘around’ and convert and transform this debris through a kind of creative alchemy into a theatrical mise en scene. This urban ‘jetsam and flotsam” comes with its own knowledge already, a built in aesthetic which i unearth and explore in my constructions
  14. I knew all of this before, but was unable to express it.
  15. im interested in sculpture and form, but the main concern is the transformation created by the camera.  the thing becoming something else.
  16. the only aspect of my process that i value is my curiosity.



The Fluid Right Edge, The Ravestijn Gallery, Amsterdam. 3 Nov - 9 Dec
The Fluid Right Edge, Beetles and Huxley, London.


New Gestures: Fabricated to be Photographed - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town

Solo Booth, Rotterdam Art Fair, The Ravestijn Gallery.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION, The Ravestijn Gallery, Amsterdam


Construction - Residency Show - 133 ARTS - Johannesburg


Fulcrum Study, BLANK PROJECTS Woodstock Cape Town


On How To Fill Those Gaps, Museum Gallery, Cape Town.



Unseen Amsterdam, The Ravestijn Gallery

Aipad. The Photography Show. New York. Beetles and Huxley

Throwing Shapes, Smith Gallery, Cape Town 

Foam Talent | New York. 24 young artists shaping the future of photography

Foam Talent | London. 24 young artist shaping the future of photography

Hush Hush, Smith Gallery, Cape Town

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. Aperture Platform Africa booth. Pioneer Works. New York.


NEW FLESH, Rubber Factory, NEW YORK.



ROMANTIK, Produzentengalerie, Cologne, Germany


Uncertain Terms - WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town. Groupshow


A Painters Eye, Sublime & Devine, MOPLA
LOW SUBJECT, The Popular Workshop, San Francisco
Bazaar ii, Fairweather House, Woodstock, Cape Town
BLOG RE-BLOG - Signal Gallery Brooklyn, NY


Across the Great Divide. White Gloss Gallery Los Angeles.
Glasgow. Eyes Closed, Eyes Open. Studio 41
New Research - part of Month of Photography Los Angeles.
Fashionality. Camera16 Gallery. Milan. Les Belle Croix
Syn/Aesthesia The Animal Hospital. Summerhall Edinburgh
EXHIBITON N°1. Data Gallery. Montreal. Groupshow.
WHEN FORM BECOMES ATTITUDE. Blank Projects. Cape Town. South Africa.


Chain Mail, Shoshana Wayne Gallery Los Angeles.



Archive 2011 - 2018