Thursday, July 13, 2023

Brian Rope | Photography

Resistance Relapse | Nico Krijno

Photo Access | 29 June to 12 August

Resistance Relapse is an Australian premiere of esteemed Cape Town-based, South African artist Nico Krijno whose free-flowing creative process disrupts and transforms familiar, figurative representations into the realm of mirage and illusion. 

It builds on his extensive previous performance, sculpture and photography work. Here he has deliberately distorted, indeed reconfigured, imagery to create a landscape to challenge our preconceived notions of what constitutes landscapes. Traditional landscape photographers would most likely be appalled – but that is not a bad thing as all photographers (and other artists) need to be challenged to think about what they are doing and what their works are saying if they are to grow and develop in their chosen fields.

There are just three works in this theatrical show – the artist has a theatre background. There is a wonderful piece titled Resistance Relapse comprising a grid of 45 separate 21 by 15 cm inkjet prints in five rows each of nine images. It presents as a tapestry – traditionally a form of textile art that is woven by hand on a loom, but here a design printed on paper which could well be displayed in your home in the manner of a wall hanging.

Untitled, one of the 45 images in the series Resistance Relapse, 2023 © Nico Krijno

Secondly, there is pentagonal tray on the floor filled with sand. Portions of a dozen or so inkjet prints of varying sizes poke out of the sand, whilst the rest of them are buried beneath it. This piece is titled Resistance relapse (sandpit), 2023. Gabrielle Hall-Lomax’s catalogue essay suggests we are being invited to unveil newly discovered treasures, to expose the obscured and delve deeper into the artist’s creation. Has anyone dared to do so I wonder.

The third piece is a glorious single channel portrait-oriented video Die Son, 2023. A richly yellow shiny egg yolk rolls across someone’s hands - repulsing one visitor who can’t stand raw eggs, but fascinating and holding the attention of others. Other things flicker in the background – a bonfire burning, a child swimming, tomatoes cascading. There are also glimpses of other artworks by this artist.

A small exhibition in terms of the number of pieces on show, but a large one in terms of the artist’s concept, his different approaches to each artwork, and his challenges to our pre-existing and often conventional or traditional idea about landscape. Even the exhibition title requires contemplation as we explore the artworks and read the informative catalogue. 

As Hall-Lomax says in concluding her essay “….it is a philosophical invitation to traverse a world under different principles…..It shakes up the conventional and dismantles viewers’ pre-existing ideas about the nature of photography and its possibilities.” Serious photographers of any genre would do well to let themselves be challenged in such ways.

This review is also available on the author's blog here.