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No man ever paints the same river twice

May 13, 2015 - May 28, 2015

No man ever paints the same river twice is curated by the artist in collaboration with Martina Larsson.

The Fitzrovia Gallery is proud to announce No man ever paints the same river twice, a solo exhibition of work by London-based Japanese artists Ricca Kawai Kalderon.


With a history of exploring various media in her practice, including resin and metal powder, Kawai Kalderon continuously returns to the ancient medium of ink. At the centre of her use of the medium lies the inevitable role of chance and randomness – circumstances that the artist deem fundamental to life. Executed in seconds, each drawing becomes a trace of her random movement, unique and impossible to repeat.

No man ever paints the same river twice brings together a selection of work executed between 2010 and 2015. El Duero-1 and El Duero-1, detail, from the series River, dating from 2014, was created as part of a collaboration between the artist and the great Spanish wine estate Vega Sicilia. Kawai Kalderon has been commissioned to provide works of art for a publication, produced in a limited edition to celebrate Vega Sicilia’s one-hundred fiftieth anniversary last year. Besides one hundred individually hand-painted book covers and an edition of two hundred silkscreen prints, Kawai Kalderon contributed illustrative ink-paintings for the nine chapters, and a series of ten double-spread abstract works. A visit to the vineyards in the northern region of Castilla y León in September 2013 inspired the artists to produce a body of paintings which prominence lay in their articulation of texture, colour and scents. To find expression for a subjective experience has been at the core of Kawai Kalderon’s artistic practice since she started making work, most significantly where nature, earth and universe are her subjects. On her return from Spain and after a period of trial-and-error she achieved the fullness in expression that she had sought in the motif of a river. Fresh memories of the river Duero, running nearby the vineyards and acting as a loyal brother, encouraged the artist to turn it into her subject for the hand painted book covers. According to the artist, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus’ saying ‘no man ever steps into the same river twice’ acted as guidance as she created the one hundred unique representations of the river. The sheer simplicity of the motif, executed with a single brushstroke, was nonetheless not born from coincidence, but it was in this form that Kawai Kalderon found the highest intensity of meanings. Twenty works from the series River are on display as part of No man ever paints the same river twice, exhibited as a series but prompted by Kawai Kalderon to be approached either as one singular work or in their individual right.

The universe, and the impact of scale and perspective on the individual’s perception of their universe, is a subject-matter that reappears in Kawai Kalderon’s oeuvre. Her fascination with questions related to existence and perception became the platform for the series Into the Void, created in 2010. ‘When I think of the dimensions of the universe, the more I realise how scarce the chance of existence of life. In front of my world, before I get swayed in my own limit of soul, mind and body, there are lives full of potentialities. Noticing how rare all existing life is, I become reverent and venerate all life forms. Even what I found hard to deal with started to look very different’, the artist wrote as a statement for the series as it was exhibited in Split, Croatia, in 2012. The smaller series of Moons, considered by the artist as an offspring to Into the Void are depictions of the solar system, which depth and inconceivable vastness are mediated through Kawai Kalderon’s unassuming use of her artistic media. Blotches of ink applied on thick woven paper daze and enthrall in their at once effortlessness and eminence to both the artist and viewer. The Fitzrovia Gallery is proud to include one work from the Moons-series in No man ever paints the same river twice.

Shown alongside these abstract landscapes is a selection of non-figurative works in mixed media. Time and Tide, Unexpected Guide and Worm Hole (all 2010) are best described as Kawai Kalderon’s response to Abstract Expressionism, which emerged from a group of male artists’ dire need of expressing their emotions in grand painterly gestures. Kawai Kalderon’s creative process begins with setting any sentiments that may colour her expression to the side. As did the Abstract Expressionist, she works from intuition, but with the intention of giving form to the universal rather than the personal.

Ricca Kawai Kalderon graduated from Musashino Art University in Tokyo in 1984 and has lived and worked in London since 1987. She has had solo exhibitions in Japan, London and Croatia, and contributed with work to numerous group-shows, including at the Museum Tokyo Bunkamura (2010), Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Art, (2004) and Gallery 286 (London, 2012, 2013 and 2014).


May 13, 2015
May 28, 2015
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The Fitzrovia Gallery
139 Whitfield Street
London, W1T 5EN
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