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Steve Schapiro, Martin Luther King Jr. (with Flag), Selma March, 1965 © Steve Schapiro & Fahey/Klein Gallery
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In his exhibition Opéra do Vento (Opera of Wind), which just opened at the Casa Triângulo in São Paulo, the Brazilian artist Nino Cais reminds us that we can laugh at everything, even photographs.

Nino Cais, who tends to play with everyday objects in his work, diverting them  from their original function, is largely tackling images; a collection of black and white photographs coming from encyclopaedias and old magazines dedicated to the cinema end up – not without humor – dismantled, cut up, then recomposed and rearranged by the artist on the walls (and floor) of the exhibition space.

Cais uses all sorts of cutting and collaging methods to give a new dimension to these images, very often like a game. The little everyday objects are associated to portraits to create small “sculpture-images” and to give a new, off-set meaning to these portraits. Actress’s faces cry tears of plastic jewels, a seashell curls up between the two parts of an image representing a couple kissing, an Adonis’s perfect body is cut into six parts that line a set of small snacking plates.

A certain cynicism is sometimes present at the core of this image game; that’s the case with a knife blade planted into the wall, chopping the portrait of a woman right under her lashes. The artist does not hesitate to play with the tools he uses to cut the images, and integrates then into his collages. Like the knife before mentioned, a cutting blade that has just carved out an entire series of portraits is left to be integrated into the resulting image.

The major piece in the exhibition, which is also gives it its title, consists of a crowd of eighty-five music stands invading a whole section of the main room, not adorned with sheets of notes and chords, but with images of seashells from encyclopaedias. The extension of the first use of the image operates here almost as an auditory space, as the title and the power of the installation resonates to evoke a musical domaine, and we can almost hear the murmurs emanating from the multitude of seashell images.

By distancing the images from the sacred, encyclopaedic relationship that we often associate with them, and by turning them away from their intended function in order to consider them as starting points for often humorous collages and small sculptures, Cais is presenting a powerful statement in his exhibition, but also one that is light and fun. Opéra do Vento both emanates humor and a perfectly chiseled composition.


Elsa Leydier 

Elsa Leydier is a photographer and author specialising in photography. She shares her life between Lyon and Rio de Janeiro.

Nino Cais, Opéra do Vento
Through May 13, 2017
Casa Triângulo
Rua Estados Unidos 1324
São Paulo, 01427