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Art Tue Mar 08 2011

Chinatsu Ikeda @ Nicole Villeneuve Gallery

This review was submitted by Daniel Schmid.

ikeda.jpg

The recent rainy Friday evening did not detract from the opening of SAIC MFA-alum Chinatsu Ikeda's solo show at the Nicole Villeneuve Gallery being well attended. Indeed, the weather seemed an appropriate fit for Ikeda's paintings, some of which feature falling rain and snow, and are made up of tiny washy marks.

The show, comprised of eight recent works on canvas and paper, ranges from oil to watercolor. A particularly strong example of what can perhaps be described as a contemporary interpretation of impressionistic mark-making can be found in an untitled oil painting featuring a clown-like figure situated between a fork and a spoon. The picture is enveloped in a variety of Ikeda's tiny marks that could be falling rain or snow, but in areas alternate between resembling popcorn or rice (further evidenced by a tiny orange bowl in the lower left corner). Elsewhere these same marks help to form the face and arms of the figure-- notably the figure's broad, bright red lips.

In an opposite corner are three paintings of flowers, two of which are in vases and share a familiarity with Van Gogh's sunflowers. The third is embraced by a painted border. The three are each rather mopey and droopy looking, but invoke a sort of energetic melancholy created through the contrast of bright color with pathetic form. The painting with the hand-painted border, titled "Frame", possesses the strongest attributes of the artist's self-described Matisse influence, while the painted border may be an allusion to Seurat, which helps to bring the work full circle back to the artist's take on Pointillism and Impressionism.

What works for Ikeda is the strangeness of her imagery, an ambiguity that holds the viewer. In this sense, the paintings with an apparent narrative such as the fork-and-spoon-wielding figure feel more developed. However, perhaps more significant and unique to Ikeda is the artist's exploration of Impressionism. In this regard, the smallest painting in the show, "Before the Storm", is the strongest and most mysterious. By far the most abstract painting in the show, it features layers of tiny colored marks creating a field, surrounded by a black ground. Here Ikeda achieves a certain charm that is different from that in the other works, and is worth exploring further.

Unfortunately, "Before the Storm" was the only painting of its kind present. While Ikeda's show is a collection of recent works, the show would be stronger if it were focused on exhibiting either her narratives, her droopy flowers, or works similar to "Before the Storm" alone.

Chinatsu Ikeda's show will be up at Nicole Villeneuve Gallery (410 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 629) through March 10.

 
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Barbara Grasser / March 8, 2011 10:09 PM

Her paintings are very imaginative, colorful and eye appealing. I would love to see more of her paintings.

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