Inviting prolonged scrutiny, Varda Caivano’s paintings repay with intimate evocations that shift and grow with each viewing. Caivano's painting are undeniably of themselves yet they are also, unavoidably, touched by and suggestive of the world beyond the studio, beyond the gallery. It is possible to view these canvases in procedural terms, for there is always a palpable, enlivening sense of the artist making decisions or changing course, deflecting quick resolutions or alighting on happy accidents that lead to another set of problems, more possible outcomes. This is one possible journey through the work, during which we might dwell on shapes and lines, variations of touch and tone, alerted to qualities of paint as space is mapped and atmosphere created. However, Caivano’s paintings are irreducible as simple records of the artist’s decision-making process. Equally strong are suggestions of landscapes or objects, actual things in the world or those filtered through the canon of twentieth-century art. Caivano's great strength lies in her understanding of the ways in which objects and images impress upon us via essences of colour, shape and texture and how these essences affect us as deeply as the physical form to which they are ordinarily attached. The works are thus held in careful balance between the intense focus of their making and endless associativity they inspire.
In reference to her handling of painting, Caivano has spoken of an affinity with the writer Georges Perec’s poetic litanies of the everyday tasks of dwelling, their layers evoking the textures of experience: “cleaning checking trying out changing fitting signing waiting imagining inventing investing deciding bending folding stooping sheathing fitting out stripping bare splitting turning returning […]”. The physical and metaphysical potential of such textures is explored further in installations of Caivano's work where touch, tone, pace and pitch are made resonant through juxtaposition and space is orchestrated as much through pauses as paintings.
In recent works, the vibrant colours that distinguished many of her previous canvases have been pared back to relatively subdued shades of grey, blue and brown. Heightening the work’s graphic qualities, and the attendant exploratory character of drawing – its erasures and re-workings – the paintings pivot between structure and openness, bringing to mind the pentimenti familiar in Medieval and Renaissance oil painting while retaining a restless, searching quality unique to the artist.
About the artist
Born in Buenos Aires in 1971, Varda Caivano lives and works in London, where she graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2004. The artist has presented solo exhibitions at institutions including the Renaissance Society, Chicago (2015); Chisenhale gallery, London (2007) and Kunstverein Freiburg, (2006). In 2013 a concise presentation of paintings throughout Caivano's practice, from early career to her most recent work, was included in The Encyclopedic Palace, the 55th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, selected by curator Massimiliano Gioni. Other recent exhibitions include Varda Caivano, Mendes Wood, São Paulo, Brazil (2021); No horizon, no edge to liquid, Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK (2020); Slow Painting, Hayward Gallery, London, UK; The Levinsky Gallery, Plymouth, UK (2020); The Edge, University of Bath and Bath School of Art and Design, Bath, UK (2020); Inverness Museum and Art Gallery and Thurso Art Gallery, Inverness, Scotland (2020); Varda Caivano, Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (2019); Surface Work, Victoria Miro, London, UK (2018); Collection 2: The 1980s Zeitgeist as a Point of Departure, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan (2018); Artists' Artists, curated by Jane Neal at the CentrePasqueArt, Biel, Switzerland (2013); Collection 2 - Focus on Recent Acquisitions, National Gallery of Osaka, Japan (2010); British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet, Hayward Gallery, London (2010); Resonance, Suntory Museum, Osaka, Japan (2010); East End Academy: The Painting Edition, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2009); Busan Biennale, South Korea (2008); and Very Abstract and Hyper Figurative, curated by Jens Hoffmann (2007). Varda Caivano is a recipient of the prestigious Abbey Award, British School at Rome (2011).
A solo exhibition will take place at Hastings Contemporary, Hastings, UK, in 2022.