Linda Warren Projects is proud to present the solo exhibitions of two powerful and esteemed, female Chicago-based artists, Michiko Itatani and Paula Henderson. While clearly distinct in both style and focus, each artist uses recurring motifs and imagery to explore their individual concerns for the forces that shape and define our human condition. Existential questions - the who, what, where and how the self is developed - is advanced in these artists’ work through quite literally an array of vantage points, points of view and painterly codings. Itatani’s show in Gallery Y, “Shadows of the Mind” draws us outward toward the vast cosmos and her self-designed universes, brimming with the emblems of culture, science, advancement and learning. Inquiry, curiosity, and imagination drive Itatani’s epic works that posits the mind as the central character and devotes fiction as a vehicle to uncover some of these truths. Alternatively, Henderson’s two exhibits, “Groundwork(s)” and “Regard” (in Gallery X and O respectively) quite literally pulls us to earth, to the land upon which we walk and to our physical bodies. These series lend design to our collective history and prompt discussion of the schematic patterns that shape our contemporary landscape and self-image.
For the last forty years Michiko Itatani’s work continues to be informed by her ongoing quest for knowledge through her spirited and intellectual grappling of all the unknown mysteries of our universe. In this newest body of work, the next chapter in what she refers to as her ongoing novel being written with paint, Itatani continues her exploration of space and time but is ever more focused on the meaning and nature of consciousness. Amongst the many books and journals Itatani has read about science, psychology, philosophy, biology, astronomy, and the like, Roger Penrose’s “Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness” has inspired this exhibition. In monumental immersive works and intimate miniatures, both for which she has become well known and will be on display, we are brought along on a spectacular journey to enter the cosmic playground of her mind where she grapples with these profoundly complicated and perplexing questions. Persuading a vision of progress, observatories of wondrous architecture, geodesic domes adorned with Baroque, Greek, Roman and even Moorish accents are loaded with representations of learning and discovery. A visual vocabulary is constructed of particles, molecules, stars, planets, planetary rings, rockets, control panels, computers and dark holes which mingle and dance with winding helix staircases, libraries, globes, pianos, harps and chandeliers – all symbols for the hallmarks of humanity and culture. More recently, a black box “character” has emerged as a key image, driving home the idea that the more one learns the less one knows and that this tale should have no known ending in sight.
Through time, Itatani’s chapters/bodies of work have been called Celestial Narratives, Celestial Connections, Cosmic Theaters, Cosmic Encounters, Cosmic Symphony, Cosmic Wanderlust, and Personal Codes to name a few. In “Shadows of the Mind,” Itatani confirms for us, that the “ring of lights”, that signature symbol of orbs found in every recent Itatani painting large or small, means the presence of the conscious mind. These paintings are amalgamations and manifestations of energy born from consciousness, personal experience and fiction. Like her, we get to be the lucky visitors. As she states, “Its my fiction writing: incomplete, fragmented, and under inquiry …through this working process, I am trying to come to terms with the complex reality of the 21st century. And my vision stays incorrigibly optimistic.”