McKenzie Fine Art
511 W 25, 2nd fl
New York, NY 10001
September 5 - October 4,
Blue Flash 2003
acrylic on wood panel, 24 x 20 inches, Courtesy McKenzie Fine Art;
October 23, 2003 cover shows August 2002-03, acrylic on wood
panel, 24 x 20 inches
Barbara Takenaga's Night Paintings are based on recurring childhood
dreams about the origins of the universe. Her excessively detailed abstractions
chronicle cosmographic events filtered through memory. While these transcendental
apparitions might be misread as kitsch or imitations of 1960s psychedelia,
the artist's skillful handling of her subject matter proves otherwise.
Painted in lusciously saturated
colors that create a mysterious neither-here-nor-there effect, Takenaga's
works disorient the viewer and lure them into a surreal dream landscape.
She makes innovative, multi-dimensional images of strings of pearls
and spiraling fireballs embedded in an infinite space. These are pure
visual experiences. In (Blue) Flash (2003, acrylic on wood panel, 24
x 20 in), a multi-layered star cluster painted in bright primary colors
is set against a muted blue background. The contrast between the vibrantly
colored, explosive epicenter and the dark curtain of the background
is dramatic. Although the complexity of detail might seem overwhelming
at first, the composition has a strong sense of order. The wild array
of minute particles, partially submerged orbs, and sparkles are drawn
towards an epicenter.
In comparison, Wave, (2002,
acrylic on wood panel, 24 x 20 in) and August, (2002-03, acrylic on
wood panel, 24 x 24 in) translate into crisp close up studies of autonomous
systems. Both compositions are dominated by similar ornate motifs, the
repetition of clearly articulated feathery swirls. These are spread
evenly across the canvas, contributing to the overall decorative effect.
These paintings conjure up many associations; Oriental tile work and
Ernst Haeckel's illustrations in Artforms of Nature (Kunstformen der
Natur, 1862) come to mind. Takenaga's intricate patterns evoke cross-cultural
and scientific imagery.
The interplay between personal
content and universal signs and symbols is hypnotic. The fusion of flat
ornamental detail and mysterious spatial depth is very effective. Night
Vision 2 (2003, acrylic on wood panel, 24 x 20 in) is an endless stream
of solid green bubbles expanding over the canvas, sucking the viewer
into its alien scenery. Inspired by night vision photographs of military
actions, Takenaga's colors intensify the intriguing aura of unpredictability
and carry us deeper into the unknown.