September 24, 2017 - University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) - Miyoko Ito / MATRIX 267 / Veronica De Jesus / MATRIX 268
September 24, 2017

University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)

Left: Miyoko Ito, Tabled Presence, 1971. Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches. Courtesy of Alice Brunner, Chicago. © The Estate of Miyoko Ito. Photo: Michael Tropea. Right: Veronica De Jesus, George Kuchar, 2011. Mixed media on paper, 10 15/16 x 13 5/8 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Miyoko Ito / MATRIX 267
September 27, 2017–January 28, 2018

Veronica De Jesus / MATRIX 268
October 25, 2017–February 26, 2018

University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)
2120 Oxford Street
Berkeley, CA 94720
USA

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This fall, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) is presenting two new installments in its ongoing MATRIX Program, which is dedicated to introducing Bay Area audiences to exceptional work by contemporary artists. The next two MATRIX exhibitions are:

 

Miyoko Ito / MATRIX 267
The enigmatic paintings of Miyoko Ito (1918–83) are little known beyond Chicago, where the artist lived and worked for four decades. Her embrace of Surrealist and Pop-inflected iconography had a significant impact on younger practitioners, including the internationally recognized Chicago Imagists. Ito’s interest in art, however, began in Berkeley, where she was born and raised, attended high school, and studied in the Department of Art Practice at UC Berkeley. Her senior year was interrupted by World War II, when Ito, a second-generation Japanese American, was sent to Tanforan—a San Bruno horse track turned internment camp—alongside her husband and thousands of others under Executive Order 9066, signed by Franklin Roosevelt in 1942. Once liberated, Ito briefly studied at Smith College before transferring to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Ito’s geometrically inspired abstraction primarily involves the construction and exploration of interior and exterior space. Many works position a highly built-up form—sometimes with the suggestion of a figure—against a distant horizon of saturated yellow, red, blue, or green. While references to landscape painting are overt, Ito’s work compellingly suggests a deeper engagement with psychological environments. In this way, her paintings are both personal and topographic—pictures of a mind endeavoring to understand itself in often hazy and remote surroundings. “Every time I have a problem, I go deeper and deeper into painting,” she said in a 1978 interview. “I have no place to take myself except painting.”

MATRIX 267 presents a dozen paintings spanning several decades of the artist’s practice. The exhibition marks the first solo presentation of Ito’s work in Berkeley and the first in a public institution in nearly forty years. Her singular vision reminds us not only of our inseparability from the natural world, but that human interiors are just as vast and unknowable as any vista.

 

Veronica De Jesus / MATRIX 268
MATRIX 268
features 239 drawings by the Los Angeles–based artist Veronica De Jesus (b. 1970), who from 2004 until 2016 made portraits of artists, writers, and diverse cultural figures to mark their passing. The first subjects of her Memorial Drawings were the famous chef Julia Child and the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz, whose deaths moved De Jesus greatly; eventually she expanded the project to include a wide range of people, some of whom she knew personally, such as Irene Pijoan, an influential artist friend of hers when she studied at the San Francisco Art Institute. The personalities she has honored range from celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Roger Ebert, and Václav Havel to members of various local communities, including Luce Depestre, who created literacy programs in Haiti; Mission District community organizer Eric Quezada; and Campbell Soup factory employee Robert Thiereff. Over the twelve years that De Jesus worked on the project, her style varied from simple black and white to a more complex use of color, layering, and minute details. Each portrait contains identifying markers that characterize and humanize the individual, revealing De Jesus’s thoughtful and tender approach.

Xerox copies of the portraits have accumulated over the years in the window of Dog Eared Books on Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission District, where the artist used to work, and where the window has served as a kind of community board for loss and remembrance. Indeed, community is at the heart of much of De Jesus’s practice. Collectively, the portraits speak to the fact that each life is equally valuable and worthy of reflection and recognition. De Jesus is a graduate of UC Berkeley’s MFA program; this will be her first solo museum exhibition, and the first time the Memorial Drawings series will be shown together in its entirety.

 

Support

Miyoko Ito / MATRIX 267 is organized by guest curator Jordan Stein.

Veronica De Jesus / MATRIX 268 is organized by Apsara DiQuinzio, curator of modern and contemporary art and Phyllis C. Wattis MATRIX Curator, with Matthew Coleman, curatorial assistant.

The MATRIX Program is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis and the continued support of the BAMPFA Trustees.

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