Photographer Nico Krijno turns the still life upside down with playful digital deconstructions

Untitled (Paarl stacks), 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

The subjects of South African photographer Nico Krijno’s still lifes are often temporary, unstable constructions, made of overlooked or ephemeral objects. These structures are created only to be photographed; often toppling or falling to pieces the moment the shutter clicks.

In Play dough and Bottles (2016) the still life cliché of the empty bottle is reworked by Nico; stacked precariously, wrapped in play-dough and doused in popping primary colours. His re-evaluation and playful subversion of the tableau tradition continues throughout the works in the exhibition, shown in his use of disposable materials, such as wooden veneer, bungee cords and plastic washing baskets and brooms.

Photographed in Nico's studio, these modern still lifes are subsequently digitally reworked: He's especially interested in the "transformative power of the photograph to flatten space and confuse perspective, and uses digital manipulation to heighten these factors. Component parts are spliced together in Photoshop, scale is altered, backgrounds cut up and reassembled to create foreground details, and negative spaces made entirely solid."

Wendy House, 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Wendy House, 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Babel, 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Babel, 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Playdough and bottles, 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Playdough and bottles, 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

You can see his latest photographs at his first UK solo exhibition at Beetles + Huxley Gallery until 22 April 2017, including new works from his ongoing series ‘New Gestures’ and ‘Generator’, illustrating Nico's playful concern with the deconstruction of the still life genre and the interplay of contrasting images and textures, volume and form.

Nico is part of an international wave of contemporary artists working to establish a new visual language for the still life in the information age. His ongoing exploration of form and material reveal his deeper interest in photographic ‘truthfulness’. These are images made explicitly to be read in the context of our internet-led, image saturated culture.

Potato Palm in Full Sun, 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Potato Palm in Full Sun, 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Mignonne with Iris, 2015 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Mignonne with Iris, 2015 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Sculpture Figure study (Mignonne), 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Sculpture Figure study (Mignonne), 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Nico adds: "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, humour and melancholy. To this end, editing and presentation are crucial in placing nature and our constructed world either in harmony or at odds."

Figure Study 3, 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Figure Study 3, 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Veneer Wood Wood, 2014 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Veneer Wood Wood, 2014 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Flowers from my brother, 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Flowers from my brother, 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Nico Krijno’s work has been included in over 20 exhibitions across Europe, South Africa and the US. He was nominated for the Paul Huf Award in 2015 and selected as a Foam Talent in 2016. His limited-edition book ‘Synonym Study’ was shortlisted for the Paris Photo Aperture Foundation Awards First Photobook Prize in 2014.

Main image: Untitled (Paarl stacks), 2016 © Nico Krijno courtesy Beetles + Huxley