Ernesto Caivano

Spain 1972


Ernesto Caivano
Ernesto Caivano
January 31, 2015

Ernesto Caivano is a New York-based artist, known for his fantastical, narrative-based ink and graphite drawings. The works reference such diverse sources as Asian screen painting and scrolls, archaeology, Art Nouveau decoration, physics, geometry, technology, botany, and medieval and Renaissance literature and fairy tales.

Caivano was born in 1972 in Madrid. He got his education across the pond – a BFA at the Cooper Union in 1999, and a MFA at the Columbia University, New York in 2001.

In 2004, Ernesto Caivano, a natural storyteller, burst onto the international art scene with After the Woods, his deeply thought, masterfully rendered ink drawings of an intricately layered imaginary world, one in which he depicted an ongoing evolution between nature and technology as told through an ageless love story between a man and a woman. Caivano’s meticulously detailed ink drawings suggest a fantastic world of apparent congruity, lying just out of reach. A romantic narrative of great scope underpins his practice, but, like artefacts of some lost culture, the drawings themselves mostly resist our efforts to decipher the story. Having already become lost in the formal beauty of Caivano’s line and composition, the viewer encounters an enigmatic cacophony of source material that has been woven into depicted fairy tale. Working without any specific internal chronology, Caivano switches between depicting specific moments in the story and references to its greater cosmology.

‘Instead of trying to figure out all the different interests I had and which to follow, I decided to see if I could put them all together. I loved science, history, and art. I loved the landscape, and I loved to figure out why cultures behave the way they do. I couldn’t let anything go’, the artist states. Caivano’s imagined realms are by design a disordered sequence of lost truths, present yet unknowable. Suspended in his fragile world, whose multifarious references never quite coalesce, his artwork create a place where understanding is infinitely deferred. Taking cues from classical myth, medieval folklore, romantic poetry, fantasy, and science fiction, Caivano’s meandering, sweeping fairytale centers on star-crossed lovers.

Another great subject of matter in his works are unusual drawings of plants, where blossoms resemble animal faces, veins open into miniature landscapes or abstract patterns, branches catch skulls of long-beaked birds. Executed first in pencil and then in ink, the pristine line drawings are keys to Caivano’s alternate universe. Like in Durer’s work, a viewer is drawn to look closer and see the details. Over time, they will discover things in the same way as rereading a text.

Caivano’s works have been included in numerous group and solo exhibitions, and his drawings are in a permanent collection of MoMA – Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The artist lives and creates in his studio in China Town, New York.


YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumGroup/Solo
2013Ernesto CaivanoWhite Cube, London, EnglandSolo
2013Settlements, Selected works 2002-2013Pioneer Works, New York, USASolo
2012Ernesto CaivanoCarlier Gebauer, Berlin, GermanySolo
2011Ernesto CaivanoMary Boone, New York, USASolo
2010Relics Where...Richard Heller Gallery, Santa Monica, CASolo
2009Her Affect On Branches (Topography of Contact)Tomio Koyama Gallery, TokyoSolo
2009ON FROM HEREGuild & Greyshkul, New York, NYGroup
2009Desenhos: A a Z (Drawings A to Z)Museu da Cidade, LisbonGroup
2008Echo GambitWhite Cube, LondonSolo
2008Microwave, SixJosée Bienvenu Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2008The Luxury of LoveVanina Holasek Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2008RenaissanceFerragamo Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2008Art on PaperWeatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NCGroup
2007Traps, Screens and OfferingsCarlier Gebauer, Berlin, GermanySolo
2007Multiple Interpretations: Contemporary Prints in PortfolioNew York Public Library, New York Library, New York, NYGroup
2007Every Eye sees differently as the EyeThe Drawing Room, LondonGroup
2007Fairy Tale, Myth, and Fantasy: Approaches to Spirituality in ArtGalerie St. Etienne, New York, NYGroup
2007Like Color in PicturesAspen Art Museum, Aspen, COGroup
2007Salon NouveauEngholm Engelham Galerie, Vienna, Austria Group
2006Floral VeinsRichard Heller Gallery, Santa Monica, CASolo
2006Games for a Blackout MachineGuild and Greyshkul, New York, NYSolo
2006View Eleven: UpstateMary Boone Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2006Light in AugustGeoffrey Young Gallery, Great BarringtonGroup
2006Among the TreesVisual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, NJGroup
2006Block Party: An Exhibition of DrawingsDaniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2006Twice DrawnThe Tang Museum, Saratoga Springs, NYGroup
2006The Compulsive Line: Etching 1900 to NowMuseum of Modern Art, New York, NYGroup
2006Selections from the LeRoy Neiman CenterMarianne Boesky Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2006New York DrawingsTravesia Cuatro, Madrid, SpainGroup
2006Fine LineAdam Baumgold Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2005Union and OfferingsStatements ARCO Fair, Carlier GebauerSolo
2005On LineLouisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, DenmarkGroup
2005Recent EditionsThe Leroy Neiman Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2005Looking at WordsAndrea Rosen Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2005Project RoomTomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2005Greater New York 2005PS1 MoMAGroup
2005HallucinationsGalerie Almine Rech, Paris, FranceGroup
2005Sutton Lane in ParisGalerie Ghislaine Hussenot, Paris, FranceGroup
2005Can’t See the ForestSixspace, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2004Mating GroundsRichard Heller Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
2004After the Woods: A SelectionPS1 MoMA, Long Island City, NYSolo
2004In the WoodsLong-term installation at PS1 MoMA, Long Island City, NYSolo
2004InstinctiveAndrea Rosen Gallery, Mario Testino curator, New York, NYGroup
2004I Feel Mysterious TodayPalm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, Palm Beach, FLGroup
2004Pick-up LinesGeoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington, MAGroup
2004Happy Days are Here AgainDavid Zwirner and André Schlechtriem curator, New York, NYGroup
2004WoodworkAnthony Grant, Inc – New York, NYGroup
2004How Would You Light HeavenCarlier Gebauer, Berlin, GRGroup
2004Whitney Biennial 2004Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NYGroup
2003Arboreal31 Grand Inc, Brooklyn, NYSolo
2003My Sources Says YesGuild & Greyshkul curated group show, New York, NYGroup
2003TerrariumBronx River Art Center, Bronx, NYGroup
2003Druid Wood as a SuperconductorSpace 101, Brooklyn, NY Group
2003Game OverGalerie Grimm Rosenfeld, Munich, GermanyGroup
2003The New TopographyGeoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington, MAGroup
2003Group ShowGrant Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles, CA Group
2003St. Valentine’s Day Massacre85 Chambers, New York, NYGroup
2002Miami AmbassadorFredric Snitzer Gallery, collaborative with Lansing-Dreiden, Miami, FLGroup
2002AmenitiesScope at the Gershwin Hotel, New York, NY Group
2002Shallow InteriorsRivington Arms Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2001Thesis ExhibitionColumbia University, New York, NY Group
2001MediumRoy Neiman Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2001Part 01Wallach Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1999Group ShowIntercontinental Gallery, Montreal, CanadaGroup