The vivid world of Tomoko
Your head begins to spin as you delve into Tomoko’s unique compositions, and yet it is from this starting-point, this feeling of bewilderment, that you must begin to examine them. It is a sense of incredulous amazement which leads you to explore, like putting your eye to a microscope, the world of micro-organisms which teams in her works and creates the poetic reality of which they are constituted. Their primordial element, in fact, is the single dot, the tiniest mark with the tip of a pen, which, multiplied by thousands with movements of the artist’s hand, then disappears into patterns of light and shade, into universes of stars and galaxies and into worlds wandering in space.
This is the first layer of Tomoko’s paintings, but rather than providing a mere support for the work, the base on which to set out the ghosts and fables of her imagination, it already forms part of the composition which is emerging from her imagination. The dots, lines and marks are like the corpuscles of a living organism, the intricate nework of a coral reef. They cluster together to form the veins of a petal, the scales of a reptile, the intricacies of lace, the dust from the tail of a comet. These, in turn, form the framework of other, increasingly complex, shapes, in which can sometimes been discerned vague glimpses of human or animal shapes, fleeting and subtly disguised, perhaps just the turbulent expansion of a sign which may never have a discernible end.
At this point, recalling Tomoko’s origins, we might be tempted to compare her intricate graphic designs to the decorations on kimonos, to the embroidery on their panels, and to the stylised depictions of chrysanthemums or cherry blossom. Or, due to the preponderance of black and white, we might liken them to the monochrome sumi-e, or to the tan-e, when she interrupts their uniformity with a vermillion brushstroke. But we would be mistaken, because there is no trace of “floating worlds” in her pictures, not to mention the other typical imagery of Japanese art. It is only in the subtle delicacy of the shades in certain works, such as “Cattedrale” (Cathedral) or “Totem”, or the colours of the puppets with disjointed limbs in “Passeggiata nello spazio” (Walk in Space) or of “Lo sciatore pazzo” (The Mad Skier) that truly remind us of misty landscapes or of the characters in the Kabuki theatre of some eighteenth-century ukiko-e master. Similarly, to come back to Europe, we should exclude a reference to the intricate colour compositions of Klee, or the dynamic sequences found in Futurism, however far she seems to approach them in terms of technique and use of colour in works such as “Giocattoli” (Toys), “Esercizi di scrittura” (Writing Exercises) and “Atollo” (Atoll) and “Estate” (Summer) respectively.
It seems then, that the poetic creativity of Tomoko is completely her own, developed and matured during long walks through alien lands after a traumatic process of uprooting from her origins, even if it is justifiable to believe that the cultural roots of Japanese calligraphy persist in the perfection of her lines, and the insistent and repetitive sequence of marks on paper echo the chanting of mantras. But, apart from that, the indisputable reality which emerges from Tomoko’s work is that her pictorial world finds the true source of its originality within itself. This is not just with regard to the spirituality which guides her, and the technical ability and sophisticated use of colours which she employs to present the viewer with emotional elements, bursts of sensations, implied ironies or metaphysical hyperbole “The first Day”, but also to the novel way in which she suggests to us, within certain limits, that she has totally made it her own. It is something which consists in the overall effect of the composition, in the maze of curlicues, and in the lightness or violence of the chromatic variations; but also, and above all, in the aforementioned microcosm that can be found in every small detail “The sixth Day”, making us consider the inspiration behind it and whether its evolution is just an illusion. Because we know the artist, we know that all the many parts form a whole and have titles that lend them meaning; but why shouldn’t we allow ourselves be seduced by the idea that a small fragment, enlarged to form a picture, is enough to convince us that we have, in front of us, a true work of art?
Evripidis Petridis – Milan 2017
“The Poetic Reality”
The vivid world of Tomoko