Koi Gallery

Koi are ornamental varieties of the domesticated common carp.  In Latin, they are Cyprinus carpio and on the Taxonomic system they are Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Actinopterygii.


In Japanese, the word Koi means carp and ornamental varieties are called ‘Nishikigoi’ which translates to ‘brocaded carp’.


The breeding of ornamental Koi began in Japan circa 1820 in Ojiya, in the Niigata prefecture on the North coast of Honshu island.  The first to be developed were white with red spots or flashes and were called ‘Kohaku’. Initially, the breeding of ornamental Koi remained very local until an exhibition in Tokyo in 1914 where the Niigata varieties were displayed for the first time. Following this, the breeding of ornamental Koi became very popular and a national pastime in Japan, leading to the development of the first tri-coloured Koi, the ‘Taisho Sanke’ and the ‘Showa Sanke’.  Taisho and Showa were both named to honour the Japanese Emperors of the time.


There are now at least 22 recognised major varieties of ornamental Koi.


Like the majority of her work, Lisa’s Koi paintings are not intended to be photo realistic portraits of Koi, although many people have commented that they are.  The intention is to capture the very essence or spirit of the Koi, with great emphasis on the shapes that they form on the canvas, their juxtaposition with each other and the interaction of colours, presenting the Koi themselves as an abstract form.  In some recent paintings, Lisa has developed this concept further by exploring a more stylised approach to the positioning of the Koi, breaking down the natural, flowing layouts of earlier paintings to reinforce the abstract qualities of the image presented.  Lisa intends to explore and develop this geometric approach; as seen in 13 Koi and 24 Koi; alongside the popular, flowing layouts she is already recognised for.


In Japanese, the word ‘Koi’ is a homophone (a word that is pronounced the same, but spelt differently) for the word meaning love and affection. For this reason, Koi are often given in Japan as gifts to represent love and friendship.


All images and artwork depicted on this site are copyright Lisa Rippon

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