Barbara Takenaga: Looking at Blue

June 22 - September 23, 2019

Looking at Blue is a full-body experience. Entering the gallery, we drop into a world of deeply saturated blue punctuated by shimmering, swirling shapes that radiate from multiple vanishing points. Metallic pigments atop the indigo ground heighten the visual and emotional effects of ebullient expansion or contraction created by the many small dots, lines, orbs, and spirals dancing across the surface.

The installation’s central feature comprises four large swaths of digitally printed wallpaper with hand-painted additions. The scale of this element in the confines of the small gallery intensifies tension between the viewer and the environment. We are enveloped by a sacred or cosmic, or simply mysterious, space—a space of awe and wonder, where the enormity of a universe with no edges or boundaries can be not just imagined but felt.

— Mara Williams, Chief Curator

In my paintings I depict possibilities that are both abstract and narrative—imagined landscapes, microscopic views, stylized architecture, mathematical diagrams, and “spacescapes.” I often use natural phenomena as metaphors for the cosmic, catastrophic, or comic. The paintings can be read simultaneously as, for example, close-up cross sections of minerals or aerial maps of land; shooting stars or falling missiles; snow/rain storms or big bang explosions.

Opening the painting process to chance, I begin the images with faux abstract-expressionist backgrounds of poured and dripped paint which determine the composition. I use a labor-intensive approach of applying a visual vocabulary of dots, tracings, outlining, and painting around splashes. There is a meditative aspect to this process, as well as unexpected shifts of image as concentric lines morph and change. While the finished painting is primary, this process of play and control is particularly important to me.

— Barbara Takenaga


Photo Gallery


August 7, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. – Artist Talk: Barbara Takenaga