04.25.16 - 07.16.16
Like many artists who feed the Easy Bay’s burgeoning art scene, Nando Alvarez Perez has set up shop in West Oakland. We visited him at his home and studio that he shares with girlfriend Emily Reynolds, co-director/curator at San Francisco’s Bass & Reiner Gallery. Amidst a library of strange objects and meticulously displayed prints, we killed a rainy morning watching him work.
Nando was an aspiring filmmaker until he picked up his first camera as an undergrad. “I had been studying film for maybe a year or two, and I hadn’t really learned how to use a camera yet,” he explained while thumbing through fabric swaths for an impromptu still life demo. “My dad is an avid photographer too, and he let me borrow his old 5D just so I could learn my way around a camera. And I just sort of switched focus from studying movies to studying photography.”
Since earning an MFA at San Francisco Art Institute, Nando has shown work on both coasts (and Puerto Rico), peppered with lecturing artist stints at his alma mater and startups like Airbnb. Through photographs that are a bricolage of surprising juxtapositions and anachronistic mysteries, his work explores the unpredictable ways in which photography can communicate information through a hyper-subjective representation of subjects.
Of the many influences that Nando has absorbed—spatial design, industrial fabrication, the occult, and strong whiffs of art historical reference—immediately recognizable is the glorious presence of kitsch. His treatment of the weird and gauche is refreshingly earnest. “Irony is something I’m super wary of, because I try to deploy kitsch so obviously that, I hope, it’s sincere again.” Winks and nudges aside, we get it.