Monday, February 21, 2011

Art Opening, Fri. March 11: Irena Saparnis at Jackson Junge Gallery


The Luminous Art of Silk Batik – Irena Saparnis

“Silk Light,” a collection of batik art by Irena Saparnis will be on display at the Jackson Junge Gallery, 1389 N. Milwaukee Ave., from Friday, March 11, through Sunday, May 1, 2011. An opening reception with the artist will be held from 6pm – 9pm on March 11th. The public is invited to attend free of charge.

Per a press release from the gallery, Irena Saparnis is renowned for her distinct style and unusual art form.

While most batik artists work with cotton, Saparnis’ fabric of choice is silk. Painting on silk is relatively common especially in Asian cultures, but its role in batik is somewhat unique.

“Early on I began experimenting with fabrics and fell in love with the results I could produce on silk,” says Saparnis. “The material itself has a luminescence that brings a whole new quality to the final composition. Light bounces off silk creating a look you could never achieve with the dense fiber of cotton.”

In addition, silk absorbs dyes differently than cotton. Saparnis says she can produce more brilliant colors with the fabric. Her work seems to cast a glow; people often ask if she has them lit from behind.

“Silk Light” focuses on three composition themes; Floral, City Scenes and Abstract.

Floral (PICTURED): Saparnis is widely known for her floral compositions. A signature trademark of her work includes the exquisite “poppies” created in numerous iterations. Common to all of them is a vibrant, ruby red hue that is rare to find and difficult to achieve in batik. “Silk Light” includes representation of the artist’s popular still-life bouquets as well as more current work.

Among the latter is “Flying Flowers"(PICTURED): Like many of the artist’s recent compositions this piece features blossoms, petals, stems and leaves in a cascading free fall, introducing a whole new dimension of energy and vitality.

"City Scenes": Irena Saparnis enjoyed an early career in architectural design. Today, that interest is reflected in her work. Her city scenes focus on mundane civic structures; her mission is to infuse them with new spirit and coax out the character she knows lurks within.

The piece titled “Confetti,” PICTURED, shows a lack-luster city street in Chicago’s Loop. The elevated train tracks cast a shadow over buildings and pavement. Brightly colored confetti, inspired by the Blackhawks ice hockey championship win, transforms the scene into one of joy and celebration.

To create the city scenes, Saparnis transfers original photographs to the fabric. Through the dye and waxing process of batik, she adds her enhancements. Some of the pieces are further embellished with hand embroidery or by applying pieces of lace and other materials.

Abstract Design: Saparnis confesses that her abstract pieces are primarily an exercise in learning and experimentation. “I’m not an abstract person,” the artist claims. “Florals, city scenes and human figures are the common subjects of my work.

Despite her caveats, Saparnis’ abstracts are delightful to behold and often showcase an intensity of color it is hard to believe can be realized through the variable process of dye and wax. Many of these works incorporate design elements from plant life or building grids. The pieces allow her to test new techniques.

“Batik has been a part of my life for so long I am able to lose myself in it” says Saparnis. “I’m constantly discovering through trial and error. What I love most about my art is the unpredictability. You can only manipulate the dye and wax to a degree. The process has a life of its own and you never know what that might lead to. It is that element of surprise that keeps me so engaged and challenged.”

Irena Saparnis, a native of Lithuania, currently resides in Willow Springs, Illinois. Her batik art has been featured in numerous exhibitions and shows through the United States and abroad. While her work is represented at the Jackson Junge Gallery year-round, “Silk Light” marks her first solo exhibit at the venue.

The Jackson Junge Gallery features the work of Laura Lee Junge and other contemporary artists in Chicago. The gallery is open Monday thru Saturday from 11am – 8pm, Sunday from noon to 5pm, closed on Monday.

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