A Choirboy No More

An Interview with Nino Cais About his Exhibition at Casa Triangulo
Cynthia Garcia, Newcity Brazil, May 1, 2017

Nino Cais executes portmanteau compositions with trivial objects displayed as careful ready-made experiments based on a personal narrative where the body is the core matrix. It was with his solo show at the 2012 São Paulo Bienal, hailed by the art establishment for its visually poetic chronicles, that the forty-seven-year-old São Paulo-born artist, once a choirboy who contemplated priesthood, came out of reclusion. At Casa Triangulo, Nino Cais exhibits drawings, interventions on book pages, a video and an installation with eighty-five sheet-music supports, “Ópera do Vento” (Opera of the Wind), which is also the title of this, his first solo show at the gallery. He’s also represented by the Fridman Gallery, where he will open his second New York show later this year. Cais (Portuguese for the docks, as in waterfront) has participated in exhibitions in Mexico, France, USA, China, Portugal and Lithuania.


Nino, while growing up you were a choirboy at the masses in your parish. Does the sacred have an impact in your work? Is it imprinted in the exhibition at Casa Triangulo? 

All objects reveal something transcendental that in some way or another deals with the idea of the sacred. Yes, the Catholic Church is part of my story and growing up I was a choirboy. In this context, objects convey a strong symbolism to rituals, ceremonies and mass. In the exhibition at Casa Triangulo, the assemblage of men’s shirts and porcelain plates fitted onto the shirtsleeves establishes an indirect dialogue with the concept of body/object, the matter and the sacred.


When did you realize you were not intended for seminary life?   

I was born in São Paulo and have always lived here. Only for a brief period of eight months I studied theology in a seminary in the state of Minas Gerais. It was there I realized my path laid elsewhere. Back in São Paulo, I enrolled in art school at Santa Marcelina University (Fasm). Before the experience at the seminary I was aware I had an inclination for the arts. As a boy, I loved to draw and was always involved in the church plays helping out with everything from costumes to set design. Creative processes have always fascinated me.