Guided by the Brush
Allison Tolman of the Tolman Collection, New York is pleased to present an exhibition of SHINODA Toko's work at Joan B. Mirviss Ltd. in conjunction with the exhibition The French Connection from June 7-August 3, 2012. Shinoda held her first exhibition at the prestigious Betty Parsons Gallery in the early 1960s. This will be her first major show in New York in several decades.
Born in Manchuria in 1913, Shinoda has long been a force in ink. At a time when few Japanese women led independent lives, she eschewed marriage and supported herself by teaching calligraphy, eventually spurning students so that she could devote herself to distilling Chinese characters into the purest of art forms. After the American Occupation of Japan she lived in New York for a few years, wanting to be at the vibrant center of the 1950s art world. It was during this period that her calligraphic style became more and more vigorous as she felt strengthened by the energy of postwar America. By the time she returned to Japan she had become a champion of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Though her training was in the most classical style of calligraphy, Shinoda pushed the envelope and broke the “rules”. An example she often uses to describe how her technique originally evolved is her writing of the Chinese ideogram for river: three vertical strokes of varying lengths. She couldn't understand why a river couldn't be written with a myriad of lines-or only one. The important thing in her mind was that the viewer “felt” the river. The balance in Shinoda's compositions is peerless, the embodiment of yohaku, also known as the abundance of space.
The Tolman Collection’s relationship with Shinoda dates back to the 1970s. We have published nearly 350 limited editions of her lithographs and sold over 1000 of her paintings. She is considered the doyenne of contemporary Japanese art. Her work is in the collection of the Guggenheim, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the British Museum and the Rockefeller Collection to name but a few. She has completed numerous commissions for large scale pieces: a 27 meter long mural at the Zojoji Temple in Tokyo, a painting for the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC, a 5.5 meter high painting for the Conrad Hotel in Tokyo and a major work for the Japanese Cultural Center in Rome, again to name but a few of her projects. She is the only living artist to have been commissioned to create a painting for their Majesties. A large painting hangs in the Emperor’s private dining room at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
Though approaching her 100th year Shinoda shows no sign that her creative force and artistic vision are diminishing in any way. This exhibition will showcase superlative paintings, mostly from the last decade, and several of the artist’s original lithographs with hand added pigment.