Visual Philosophy: Michiko Itatani, Buffie Johnson, William Manning & Jeanne Miles

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • August 28, 2017

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Many galleries and museums have become trendy and offer amusement over the appreciation of art to their patrons. Art requires more than superficial perusal to truly experience the meaning of the work, both cerebrally and emotionally. There must be an entwinement of personal vision and cultural dynamics. 

 The artists in this exhibition at Anita Shapolsky Gallery (NY, through Oct. 28), though very different, have subtle interactions. Michiko Itatani’s paintings from her series “Starry Night Encounter” with crusty surfaces makes you feel you are surrounded by celestial zones. They are utopian landscapes that send you to another level of existence. Her paintings are surrounded by smaller paintings of the same series. This is an exciting installation. Michiko is a professor at The Art Institute of Chicago. She is in numerous national and international public collections.

Buffie Johnson passed away in 2006 at age 94. She was an existential painter who believed in the cycle of life and over the years changed her style but not her vocabulary. She was relentless in finding the means to visualize extended consciousness. She was one of the few to have contributed to the development of two of the key post-war art movements; abstract expressionism and feminist art. Her paintings transmit a profound conception of the interconnectedness of human civilization.

William Manning portrays his paintings as physical objects (as does Jeanne Miles). His work is inspired by the natural landscape of Maine. The viewer is allowed multiple ways to visually unfold his work, coming off the wall and on the floor. He considers them to be three dimensional paintings. His paintings embody the wedding of organic and geometric elements. He uses abstract and color planes which convey depth, contemplation, spirituality and gestural movements which display spontaneity, movement and action in all of the media in which he works.

Jeanne Miles was a follower of Theosophy. Circles, squares and triangles appeared in her work after her studies with Ouspensky. Miles was in the 1975 exhibition of Mason/Miles/vonWiegand – Three American Purists presented by the Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield, Massachusetts, in which the term – American Purist – was used to identify artists dedicated to pure abstraction in contrast with abstract expressionism. At times she used gold and platinum leaves in her paintings to achieve high mystical expression and richness to her geometric forms. She was represented by Betty Parsons gallery since 1943, then known as the Wakefield Gallery. In one exhibit in the early 50’s she was one of a few women artists exhibiting and the men walked out with their paintings to the Sidney Janis Gallery down the hall.

Anita Shapolsky

Tags: american art

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