Wrightwood 659 is pleased to present Michiko Itatani: Celestial Stage, an exhibition of more than 60 paintings and drawings that reveal the Chicago-based artist’s fascination with humankind’s efforts to comprehend the universe and the inspiring grandeur of the unknown. Over the course of her 40-year career, Itatani has created a compelling body of work that is at once private in its inspirations, and outward facing in its engagement with the mysteries and science of the cosmos.
Itatani’s oversized paintings—often seven-by-eight feet or even larger—burst with an energy created by densely placed images, which serve as symbols of humanity’s eternal search for knowledge. Many of the painting depict “stages” where science and culture come improbably together: baroque bookcases with rockets, grand pianos and Japanese tea rooms, harps alongside helical staircases, and atomic models of electrons charging around nuclei. The effect is of an artist’s joyous exuberance and her wonder and awe at the world and beyond.
Michiko Itatani is Professor Emeritus at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC), where she has taught for 40 years. She was born and educated in Osaka, Japan, where from an early age she was fascinated by the patterns and structures of science, learned traditional brush painting, and published poetry. She came to the U.S. in her early 20s, earning BFA and MFA degrees from the AIC (1974, 1976). Her work is represented in the permanent collections of public museums around the world, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA), Spain; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea; Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland; and the U.S. Embassy Brasilia, Brazil, among many others.