Michiko Itatani: Lyrical Works on Paper

Michiko Itatani
Work by Michiko Itatani. Permission by Printworks Gallery.
Photo: Darrell Roberts.

Michiko Itatani was born in Japan and came to the United States in 1970 to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she is currently a professor of painting and drawing. Itatani (pronounced EE-tah-tah-nee) had aspirations to be a fiction writer, and in her youth studied philosophy and literature. It appears this early interest has fueled her current body of work, with scholarly subject matter. Her works are on display this month at Printworks Gallery in Chicago’s River North gallery district.

Itatani is primarily known for her mammoth-scale oil paintings, which become major installations when all hung together. She has created almost three decades of paintings in a celestially abstract style, which has also incorporated the movement of lyrical figures in some series. At Printworks, her small and medium-scaled works on paper — skillfully done in gouache, Prismacolor pencil and ink — range in size from about 10″ x 7″ to 22″ x 30″. They are just as compelling as her large-scale works, and are meticulously labored.

Michiko Itaani
Work by Michiko Itatani. Permission by Printworks Gallery.
Photo: Darrell Roberts.

The dramatic colors heighten her interior theater spaces. She has intense orbits of color rings floating in the air, with elaborate chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, and oriental-like color, pattern and decoration, filling the theater walls.

Michiko Itatani
Work by Michiko Itatani. Permission by Printworks Gallery.
Photo: Darrell Roberts.

Many of Itatani’s works deal with a library or reading room series. A great expanse of interior space fill the room with linear perspective from floor to ceiling. Rooms have the feeling that a great philosopher or scholar is present from the Age of Enlightenment. Globes fill the rooms on the floor, rows and rows of books fill the bookcases, and only a hint of postmodernity is offered with a laptop painted on a table. The wallpaper and ceilings are fanciful with Baroque-like colors, patterns, and designs. A hint of French Rococo fills the room with all its abundance.

Printworks Gallery, located at 311 W. Superior Street, Suite 105, is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone: 312-664-9407. Michiko Itatani’s new works on paper are up until March 29, 2008.

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