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Barbara Takenaga creates mesmerizing and seductive painting that reference macro and micro universes. Her compact, densely patterned paintings are optically riveting and transcendentally suggestive. Working with small brushes, she creates fields of extremely fine spirals and dots that tend to concentrate and become more luminous toward the center. Scores of little feathery spoked wheels accumulate in loosely concentric circles, and brightly colored dots like bubbles or cells fill the dark spaces between. These meticulously detailed optical pattern paintings straddle the realms of the cosmic and the genetic, evoking images of the Milky Way and the nano patterning of quarks and DNA.
There is a swarming, spacey feeling as though one were traveling at the speed of light through some distant galaxy or into the depths of some inner psychic center of illumination. In the delicate touch and extreme industry of Ms. Takenaga’s work you feel this artist’s own playfully devotional state of mind; one imagines it’s like that of a mystically inspired medieval manuscript illuminator.
On paper Ms. Takenaga produces more expansive, less concentrated compositions consisting mostly of spherical shapes like balls of string outlined in ink and colored pale orange, pink and yellow. Barbara Takenaga has been at the leading edge of this renaissance, creating eye-pleasing abstractions that succeed in being both smart and enticingly sensuous. Though Takenaga’s body of paintings is persistent in tis investigation, each work manifests a distinct vision, a shift in color, a unique pulsation of energy, to create an array of vibratin optics tha offer delighs, awe, humor and pleasure to the viewer. Simultaneously retro and totally now, these paintings and drawings exude a hip sophistication.
Takenaga, a native of North Platte, Neb., spent about 17 years in Colorado, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1972 and 1978 respectively. She has taught at several area institutions, including a 1982-84 stint at the University of Denver. She maintains a studio in New York City, as well as Williamstown, MA where she is also a Professor at Williams College.
Ms. Takenaga has exhibited her work at numerous museums and galleries including Mass MOCA, North Adams, MA; The American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York; The DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA; McKenzie Fine Art, New York and Quint Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA amongst numberous other venues.