DC Moore Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of Barbara Takenaga’s most recent paintings, which are her boldest and most diverse yet. Takenaga has recently introduced evocative horizon lines in her abstract explorations of pattern and movement, and this group suggests natural phenomena like never before. At the same time, Takenaga remains a committed abstractionist, pushing her radiating dots across these canvases in newly bright, saturated, and varied hues. Accompanying the exhibition is a fully illustrated catalogue with a conversation between Takenaga and Robert Kushner.
Takenaga’s references to the natural world may appear more literal—titles include Geode Sky (tipped horizon), Two Waves, and Red Cloud (Golden Egg)—but their subjects are so expansive that they approach the ontological. While swirls of dots and lines form acidic tornadoes, scalding magma, and exploding supernovae, they tease the eye with indications of scale and motion, but there are also bigger questions at play. Do Takenaga’s hypnotic, chaotic explorations depict creation or destruction? Are they apocalyptically serious or cartoonish and playful?
Takenaga achieves such myriad effects by balancing her twin impulses both to meticulously lead and to loosely follow the paint. Beginning with a thin layer of paint applied gesturally, she uses this base as a template over which to build her rich and vast scenes.
Takenaga’s last solo exhibition at DC Moore Gallery featured optical meditations on icy, sea-foam grays. In the past, she has challenged herself to paint the same motif—a swirling, dotted mandala—dozens of times in the same small format. By contrast, this exhibition features a variety of iconographies on a much larger scale.
Artcritical’s David Cohen has called Barbara Takenaga “a high priestess in the cult of nutty, trippy, transcendentally labor intensive abstraction.” Her work has been exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO; and the National Academy Museum, New York. Her work was highlighted in the MIT Press publication Psychedelic: Optical and Visionary Art Since the 1960s (2010). Takenaga is the Mary A. and William Wirt Warren Professor of Art at Williams College. She divides her time between Williamstown, MA and New York City.
On view in the Project Gallery: Isabel Bishop (1902 – 1988): A Selection of Paintings, Drawings, and Prints