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.