1969, São Paulo, Brazil
Once these features suggested by the observation of the universe of the photographic images are established (especially those disseminated through books and/or catalogs and magazines) it would be appropriate now to take a closer look at Nino’s production by describing the actions he performs on the photographs he finds published in books, catalogs etc. Actually, there are specific types of actions which start his process:
Nino Cais works with photographs he finds published in books, catalogs etc. Actually, there are specific types of actions which start his process:
A1) The artist collects books, catalogs and magazines, presenting photos that repeat traditional artistic categories: individual or collective portraits, landscapes and still-lifes
A2) The artist rips out the pages that contain these photos
A3) The artist cuts out the images.
During the process of the second or third type of actions it is important to note that Nino, while doing it, removes the selected image from the original context in which it was placed either by the author of the image and/or by the editor. Thus, the artist appropriates the chosen image and by doing so transforms it into a fragment, a residue, remainings or ruins of what must have been the original meaning of the publication that first presented it.
Once one of these operations is done, the artist begins a second stage of the process that can occur through three types of procedures:
B1) He overlaps some object to the image / fragment that changes its configuration: a strip of cloth, a stone (real or false), ink etc.
B2) He withdraws meticulously part of the first layer of the paper where the photo was printed
B3) He juxtaposes another fragment of image to the first one.
Indeed, these three actions aim at reconfiguring those images’ residues, which with the reception of one or more of these actions, definitely fail to correspond to the previously defined meaning.
An important information: when Nino takes a page from the context of a book, the page itself is a fragment of the whole (the publication) as the printed picture there is nonetheless a fragment of the original editorial design. However, it is important to note that this image, now separated from the context that it integrated, recovers its condition of signifier (“pure” or “impure”, does not matter). Therefore, when he detaches the page with the image, Nino resurrects or allows to emerge the fullest dimension of the image’s signifier. He frees it, so to speak, from the editor’s excessive interventions.
It is in this recovered image that the second type of Nino’s action takes place. It is in this stage that, free from the edition in which the artist found it, the image will be invested with new possibilities of meaning.
TADEU CHIARELLI, 2014
Because Nino Cais works with reproductions from books, catalogs etc., he sees the photographic image all the time as being on the paper’s medium. And when he acts upon it by taking its upper layer or by applying paint or pigment or a stone or cloth etc., the artist denounces all the time the dimension of artifice that resides there. When he recovers through his strategies the reality of the medium that contains the image, he seems to want to deprive us from the alienation of our critical capacity where we habitually stand when before an image.
This disalienation he proposes is so complete that he – because of his procedures – gives it a poetic dimension that the images did not have in the first place or that were repressed by the precession of their condition as a signifier at the mercy of just one imposed meaning.
Another interesting aspect in these processes chosen by Nino is that, despite his destructive impulse, he never radicalizes them to the point of suppressing the basic indicative of each of the images. He allows us to notice each image as a “portrait” or “landscape” or “still-life”. Safeguarding this basic evidence he reinforces the traditional characteristic of the painting and the photo. On the other hand, he further underscores his goal (consciously or not) of making us aware that we are facing constructions conducted by an intelligence (his own) that articulates a discourse from previous signs: History of Art, history of photography (including Dada and Surrealism), photographic reproductions, paper’s and stone’s materiality, the cloth and, among others, aggregated pigments.
With his collages, Nino reveals to us the reality of signs while elements of possible syntaxes and, thus, creates openings for disclosing the mechanisms of the reality that engulfs and produces us.
TADEU CHIARELLI, 2014
In the contemporary world, representation of the body indeed answers more and more to the demands of consumption. And fashion and sewing magazines, like those used by the artist in his collages, represent a fertile field for the treatment of the body as a thing. In these publications, squalid bodies tend to resemble coat-hangers for designer clothing. Or else the body becomes a mere image that represents a sensual role, bearing an artificial attitude, a pose, aimed at a predetermined niche of the consumer market. In his collages, Nino Cais lays different patterns over these pictures of bodies, which themselves already serve the function of dictating norms. An operation of repetition with the sign changed, like an annulment.
In any case, the body, his own and others’, constitutes one of the central elements of the artist’s investigation: it is image represented and direct experience with the world. This is a body that returns to itself to investigate its capabilities and limitations and, hence, reflects on its own acts, postures and connections to objects. His art involves the fundamental and ongoing question about the possible meanings of the body and, above all, about the meaning that it gives to the objects around it. In Nino Cais’ practice, the traditional opposition between active and passive no longer makes any sense. The body acts on the world and suffers in itself the action exerted on it.
Cauê Alves, 2012
Nino Cais works the body as an original point and reference for everything that surrounds it. In each of his productions, he questions the relationship between objects, the body and the world. Using various techniques linked to collage, Nino works the gap between subjective experiences and official narratives. With the premise of understanding the body as a mold that gives rise to objects and spaces, the artist explores and develops this problem. Through the recombination of diverse images, he travels between the past and the present and, through careful observation, generates relationships with his works that did not exist until that moment.
In this way, Nino Cais, starting from an already known version, investigates and produces new pages in history. He investigates the limits between the physical and the abstract, between the body and the world where he lives.
4.4.18 - 5.5.18
While I'm sleeping Nino Cais
A dream with sides
1 / The glory of art is in becoming a strange form before us. It reaches with so little ...
It is not necessary to hang large metal structures made by underpaid assistants, or to use jerky software that invents two-color shapes, or to enclose dolls, modules and the entire room to look excessive. The excess is true in the moment where the sensation revives for a second and says that things are not so. Like here, that happens in this room. I have been telling all this Arte Chico for some time, an art that puts its strength in liquidating languages wisely, without fuss. Boy art is also a literal idea. It is enough to go, for example, to see the portrait that Henri Rousseau made of his father and that is hanging on the first floor of the National Museum of Fine Arts. Rousseau made small art in an exponential way, on various sides of his life, his style, his way of seeing and his way of painting.
2 / There are works that have a lopsided center. The humility of his arrogance is in distinguishing himself by what is normal. It may go unnoticed in the thinking of biennials but it attributes to the spectator strolling the city a feeling: “look, capable that it is enough to cut a bad leaf. To cut it badly is to cut with style ”. The viewer thinks about evil and knows that any technique is endowed with time and discursive or cultural strategies to do so, naturally. Because we don't know why we grab a scissors like we do. But we can grab for the side of the surface that no one grabs. Nino takes the materials inside, explodes them and wraps them. The shell of the material is also that of the image, which opens a groove in itself, to achieve the effect of a spell. All this with nothing, with almost nothing: a photo from an art magazine, nails, a ruler, a little glue and something to cut.
3 / We are in the manifestation of a tension between inside and outside that is not resolved. Lucio Fontana pulled back the canvas, radicalized it. That is why the tip of the rail of the art of looking forward from behind is in his work and has as one of its stations Nino himself, Lygia Clark or, in this country, Max Gómez Canle, who unchecked the frames of his paintings so that the sky breaks into a false square. Nino provides images that come from mythical actions. I imagine three. A pointed shovel poking through ordinary images or jingling ones. A guillotine cutting where it hurts the most. A face ripped off by hand, as if Bacon had gone doubly mad over his paintings.
4 / Dreams always end at the worst and at the best time. They have the intensity of a meanwhile. They dance in their passing force. They laugh at the expectation. They are awake at the moment when the head sleeps and the body does not. The moment there is a conflict between desire and mandate. In these works the clairvoyance of geometry and the alternative art of lines and color are buried to order what we have to confess even though we do not dare. The appearance of poor images for good (girls) of art. The surprise of finding volume in the game, noise in the vision, rest of the reflections and a proposal with a rhythm of definition: sleeping is a way of saying that something that belongs to us is being done and that it contributes to a world that only we know , a territory that luckily we find it difficult to describe.
Nino Cais (São Paulo, Brasil, 1969)
Nino Cais focuses his artistic production on working with archive images. One of his most recurring themes is the body as the matrix of everything that exists in the world. According to the artist: “if, at some point, the body determines the construction of a certain space, then architecture also shapes and limits the body”. Using cuts, rips, and stains as part of the process that allows to reveal gaps between subjective experiences and official narratives, Cais investigates and produces pages of history and adds them to the version already told and known. He looks into the limits between physical and abstract art, and also between the body and the world it inhabits
Nino graduated from Saint Marcelina University (FASM) with a Bachelor’s degree in Arts. In 2012 he participated in the 30th São Paulo International Biennial and in 2014 in the 3rd Bahía Biennial
His work was part of numerous solo shows such as: A fábrica do Corpo Humano (Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, Brazil, 2020); Don’t turn off the light (Fridman Gallery, New York, United States, 2018); Mientras estoy durmiendo (Gachi Prieto Gallery, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2018); Ópera do Vento (Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, Brazil, 2017); Teach Me How to Dance (Fridman Gallery, New York, United States, 2016); Adágio (Arte Hall, São Paulo, Brazil, 2016); Remanentes (Gachi Prieto Gallery, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2015) and Um Cais Para Nino: A imagem na imagem (Paço das Artes, São Paulo, Brazil 2014), among others.
He also participated in several group exhibitions. These are the most relevant: Sala de Estar (Sesc São Caetano, São Caetano do Sul, Brazil, 2020); Against, Again: Art Under Attack in Brazil (Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery, Joh Foy College, New York, United States, 2020); Do que se guarda (Museu de Arte de Ribeirão Preto Pedro Manuel-Gismondi, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, 2019); Ação e Reação (Casa do Brasil, Brazil Embassy, Madrid, Spain, 2018) and Waving and Wavering (Maryland Art Place, Baltimore, United States, 2018).
His work is part of renowned collections such as: Museu de Arte do Rio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia (Salvador, Brazil), Museu de Arte de Ribeirão Preto (Ribeirão Preto, Brazil), Museu Nacional do Distrito Federal (Brasília, Brazil), Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo, Brazil) and Palácio das Artes (Praia Grande, Brazil).