Universal Possibilities: The Artwork of Michiko Itatani

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Sam Houston State has the honor of presenting Michiko Itatani’s latest gallery, Cosmic Theater II – HyperBaroque & Moon Light / Mooring. Through in depth perception by intertwining landscapes with texture, Itatani properly executes a universe of limitless possibilities. Her gallery sheds new light on the ebb and flow of ethereal structures, and her paintings approach architecture through the lenses of an astronomer, delicately suspending reason with fantasy. This dichotomy is further expressed by the themes of the gallery.

Speaking in terms of her motif, Itatani challenges the eye by combining Eastern and Western styles of design. Furthermore, her work is concentrated on illuminating the heavenly in an earthly setting. For example, in her painting Cosmic Sleepwalk (HyperBaroque CS-3), the artist places globes inside a library, depicting a universal consciousness, and that knowledge can transcend from the celestial to the soil. Her images conjure orbit and interplanetary connections, while keeping the observer’s feet firmly placed on the ground. Itatani’s textured geometric lines seemingly jump off the canvas, drawing the observer into a world of her own imagination. One striking example of Michiko’s style is her use of crosshatched lines. This theme is present in several of the displayed paintings. She overlaps the crosshatching in sheets, creating an illusion of layered directional light. Another quality is her use of pointillism, which further accents the orbital themed gallery.

Itatani is a native of Japan who migrated to the United States to study at Chicago’s School of the Art Institute. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts from the Institute and began teaching there in 1979. She is known as one of the most astute in her field, receiving both the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the Illinois Arts Council Artist’s Fellowship. She describes her creative process as “gathering various fragments from experiences, events, documents, literature, history, science, myths and customs.” She contends that on a personal level, painting is a “diagram of some of those possibilities, consisting of painting vocabularies that are both fascinating and painful for me at the same time.” Accordingly, her work varies from the vibrant and colorful to the foggy and opaque. Her paintings tell a story, chapter by chapter, of one person’s pursuit of intelligence, even at the cost of worldly embodiment. Michiko Itatani shows that knowledge can be found in the most unexpected corners of our universe.

Cosmic Theater II will be displayed at Art Building F in the Gaddis Geeslin Gallery from Oct. 1 through October 29. On Thursday, Oct. 8, Mrs. Itatani will be speaking in the Art Auditorium from 4-5 p.m., and there will be a reception afterwards from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Anyone interested should make this trip to view her paintings. It would be worth your while.