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Fine Art PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Wrightwood 659 announce Michiko Itatani: Celestial Stage

Wrightwood 659 is pleased to announce Michiko Itatani: Celestial Stage, an exhibition of more than 60 paintings and drawings that reveal the Chicago-based artist’s fascination with humankind’s efforts to comprehend the universe and the inspiring grandeur of the unknown. Over the course of her 40-year career, Itatani (b. 1948, Osaka, Japan) has created a compelling body of work that is at once private in its inspirations, and outward facing in its engagement with the mysteries and science of the cosmos. Celestial Stage is on view through December 17.

Itatani’s oversized paintings—often seven-by-eight feet or even larger—burst with an energy created by densely placed images, which serve as symbols of humanity’s eternal search for knowledge. Many of the paintings depict “stages” where science and culture come improbably together—linking baroque bookcases and rockets, grand pianos with Japanese tea rooms, and harps alongside helical staircases. The effect is of an artist’s joyous exuberance and her wonder and awe at the world and beyond.

Michiko Itatani: Celestial Stages is presented by Alphawood Exhibitions.

The exhibition has been organized by Ashley Janke, Wrightwood 659 Assistant Curator.

“The galleries at Wrightwood were designed to foster the kind of quiet contemplation that Michiko Itatani’s oeuvre inspires—even requires. We also consider it our mission to bring into public focus important art that otherwise might not be exhibited. This gathering of Michiko’s production over her lifetime marks just such an occasion,” says Chirag G. Badlani, Executive Director of Alphawood Foundation Chicago, which is presenting Celestial Stage through Alphawood Exhibitions.

The Exhibition
Michiko Itatani: Celestial Stage features approximately 60 paintings and drawings, nearly half of them vibrantly colored, densely layered narratively, and enormous in scale. They show the artist experimenting along dual tracks: using either a color-filled palette to imagine domestically scaled rooms filled with a jumble of scientific inventions under the dome of the cosmos, or gray abstractions pulsing with glowing orbs, spirals, and tumbling polyhedrons. Large-scale canvases are installed alongside drawings the size of typing paper, rendered with a virtuosity befitting an artist whose early training included Japanese ink brush drawing. Twelve recent paintings are being exhibited for the first time.

Exhibition Publication
Michiko Itatani: Celestial Stage is accompanied by an 80-page publication which highlights the poetic systems and devices in Itatani’s paintings and her fascination with humanity’s desire to grapple with the unknown universe. Documentation of the artworks and installation are included along with a fictional short story by Itatani published for the first time, along with essays by Assistant Curator Ashley Janke and theorist Simon O’Sullivan.

The Artist
Michiko Itatani is Professor Emeritus at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), where she has taught for 40 years. She was born and educated in Japan, where from an early age she was fascinated by the patterns and structures of science, learned traditional brush painting, and published poetry. She came to the U.S. in her early 20s, earning BFA and MFA degrees from SAIC (1974, 1976). Her work is represented in the permanent collections of public museums around the world, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA), Spain; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea; Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland; and the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil, among many others.

About Wrightwood 659
Wrightwood 659 is a private, non-collecting institution devoted to socially engaged art and to architecture. Located at 659 W. Wrightwood Avenue, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, the intimate space officially opened in late 2018 and hosts public exhibitions in the Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. Wrightwood 659 was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, who transformed a 1920s building with his signature concrete forms and poetic treatment of natural light. For additional information, visit:

About Alphawood Exhibitions
Alphawood Exhibitions is an affiliate of Alphawood Foundation, a Chicago-based, grant-making private foundation working for an equitable, just, and humane society.
Hours of Operation
Fridays 12–7 pm
Saturdays 10 am–5 pm
Exhibition tickets are $15 and are available online only Please note, admission is by advance ticket only. Walk-ups are not permitted.

Michiko Itatani, “Still life” painting from Astroarchaeologist 22-D-2, 2022, oil on canvas, 28” x 23”