Exhibition of paintings by Barbara Takenaga opens at the Williams College Museum of Art

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Exhibition of paintings by Barbara Takenaga opens at the Williams College Museum of Art
Barbara Takenaga (American, b. 1949), Two Waves, 2013. Acrylic on linen. Private collection.

WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS.- This first in-depth assessment of Barbara Takenaga’s work includes approximately sixty paintings made over two decades that trace the artist’s ongoing preoccupation with forms evoking celestial bodies—galaxies, exploding stars, and resplendent orbs—variously allied by critics with Big Bang theory, the mid-western night sky, and psychedelic experience. The exhibition will be on view at the Williams College Museum of Art from October 5, 2017 through January 28, 2018.

At once conceptual and emphatically ornamental, Takenaga’s painting has always thrived on contradiction. Combining aspects of Japanese printmaking and Tantric painting, as well as modernist developments such as op art, her work has enriched the languages of abstraction, deftly elevating aesthetic territory that is still thought of as either decoration or illustration.

"Barbara's work has existed at the forefront of contemporary abstraction for the past decade or so. Through her intricate patterns of dots, she has produced paintings that are both uplifting and transcendent as well as wacky and whimsical. There is great aesthetic pleasure to be had from her work," said guest curator Debra Bricker Balken.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a 144-page, fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by guest curator Debra Bricker Balken, a brief consideration of Takenaga’s career by novelist Jim Shepard, and a poem by Geoffrey Young—to be distributed by DelMonico Books · Prestel Books and released in October 2017.

“We are delighted that for the next several months, WCMA’s two largest galleries will be filled with Barbara’s mesmerizing canvases. Debra Balken has done an extraordinary job of assembling the key works from every phase of the artist’s career, and providing visitors to the museum and readers of the exquisite catalogue with a scholarly context for these truly awe-inspiring paintings.” Lisa Dorin, Interim Director of the Williams College Museum of Art.

Barbara Takenaga’s paintings have been viewed in many ways—as abstract or representational, micro or macro, cartoon-goofy or cosmic-psychedelic. With a range of references that include physics diagrams, astronomy, fractals, sci-fi and invented landscape, the work involves a labor intensive, systematic process.

Recent solo exhibitions include a wall project at MASS MoCA, SPACE 42 of the Neuberger Museum, and DC Moore Gallery in New York, who represents her work. Her paintings are in the collections of the DeCordova Museum, the Henry Art Gallery, the Crocker Art Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, the San Jose Museum, and the Williams College Museum of Art, among others. Recent reviews have appeared in Art in America, the New York Times, Hyperallergic, the Brooklyn Rail, and Elle Décor. She is also represented by Gregory Lind Gallery and Shark’s Ink. Takenaga lives and works in New York City and teaches at Williams College in Massachusetts.

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