Varda Caivano

Varda Caivano

The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago

Varda Caivano, Untitled, 2015. Acrylic, charcoal and oil on canvas, 120 x 180 cm. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London. Photo: Angus Mill.

February 18, 2015

Varda Caivano
The Density of the Actions

February 22–April 19, 2015

Opening: Sunday, February 22, 4–7pm, with artist talk at 5pm

The Renaissance Society
at the University of Chicago
5811 S. Ellis Avenue 
Cobb Hall, 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60637
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 10am–5pm,
Saturday–Sunday noon–5pm

The Renaissance Society presents The Density of the Actions, an exhibition of new work by Varda Caivano that marks the London-based artist’s first solo presentation in the United States.

Each of Caivano’s canvases represents an inquiry into the practice of painting, performed over time. Layers of paint are applied, then rubbed, scratched, and reworked to create compositions that recall both the physicality of Abstract Expressionism and the mysticism of Redon. In this tension, Caivano negotiates the legacies of abstract painting with a clarity of means and materials. 

Self-described as an “old-fashioned painter,” Caivano’s process is intuitive, playful, and open-ended. She develops several paintings simultaneously in the studio, creating individual works that, when displayed together, contribute distinct phrases to a dynamic whole. In constant flux, the paintings present themselves as vulnerable, unfolding, failing, becoming, and disappearing. 

While decidedly non-figurative, Caivano’s paintings summon the viewer to linger as textures and forms emerge. They particularly evoke a sense of place, sometimes recalling landscapes, though more frequently alluding to inner spaces and otherworldly realms. At the same time, they invite close attention to the canvases’ physical properties—their modest size, the range of brush strokes, or the way two colors sit next to each other. 

For this Renaissance Society exhibition, Caivano and curator Solveig Øvstebø have assembled a group of the artist’s recent works that incorporate drawing more directly into the paintings, representing a new direction in her practice. With a muted palette and sparer markings, their tone is lighter, more suggestive of an elusive narrative than vivid emotion.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color catalogue featuring documentation of the installation and critical reflections on Caivano’s practice by Terry R. Myers, Barry Schwabsky, and Paula van den Bosch.

The Renaissance Society is an independent, non-collecting museum of contemporary art located on the campus of the University of Chicago. Founded in 1915, it is committed to supporting ambitious artistic experimentation, primarily through the commissioning of new works, and to fostering rigorous, interdisciplinary discourse around it. In addition to the gallery program, it hosts a dynamic range of concerts, performances, lectures, screenings, and readings. The Renaissance Society will celebrate its centennial anniversary from September to December 2015.

All of the Renaissance Society’s exhibitions and events are free and open to the public. 


Varda Caivano at The Renaissance Society
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The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago
February 18, 2015

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