Nana Tamamoto - Inspired by the Passion of an Artist as a Young Lady
“In Tokyo, people suffer from a dry blast, don’t they? Dry air is not good for my works, either.” It was on rainy Saturday afternoon in March of this year that I visited Tamamoto’s atelier-cum-residence in Osaka. “I must make sure that my collection will exist at least for 100 years,” said Tamamoto. In her words, I sensed the pride and determination of Tamamoto, who lives in the world of art. She has come a long way as an artist who has created a number of artworks and whose original style has attracted numerous people, and I believe this long journey backs up her force.
She was born in Toyama Prefecture. When she was a high school student, to fulfill her aim of acquiring the basics of painting, she split her time and spent half of it in Kyoto Prefecture, where the art school was, and the other half in Toyama, where her home was. Knowing this, I sense that she was keenly aware of her calling for art at an early age. Then she began to develop her style and try oil paintings and fiber art. After graduating from university, she started to work for a clothing company as a designer of textile. Her responsibility included developing new clothing materials, dyeing such fabrics, and designing traditional tapestries. She demonstrated her talents in every field. However, she remembers that she couldn’t fully express herself.
To establish herself as an artist “Nana Tamamoto.” To find the way to achieve it, I think she had been taking this long journey. In this process, she was put into various situations: she was challenged physically and mentally, and experienced both applause and jealousy from other artists. It was when she was 24 that she established her own touch with which she converts the texture of fabrics and threads into something different, and attaches them onto the canvas, and in addition puts colors on them. Using this touch, she makes her two-dimensional works look like three-dimensional. It is so original that people who appreciate her works can tell at a single glance that those are Tamamoto’s. This is the technique Tamamoto alone could develop.
Evidently, a solid foundation of technique she has consolidated, thorough knowledge on materials like fabrics, and “her ability to snuggle against the heart of someone else” which also is her natural ability are making her works even more brilliant. She has never stopped striving to create the collection that “will exist for 100 years.”
Her style is also very original. Soft lines and warm colors cocoon us compassionately, and the black color and bizarre objects that appear suddenly on the canvas turn us down unsympathetically. Her works never allow an easy appreciation, but at the same time, they capture our heart, and we can’t take our eyes off from it. This is because, in my belief, her works make us accept the negative side of human beings such as human imperfection as well as betrayal, and also make us face directly the essence of human nature that is not explainable. Appreciating her works doesn’t just mean that we face well-balanced beauty of art.
Many fans of Tamamoto’s works say that they feel as if her works could see deep inside of their heart. If you want to appreciate her work, you must also face yourself. Tamamoto herself says, “I have a great interest in the inner world of a human.” It may be true that her perspective isn’t set to something visible.
As an example, take “Mantle,” which will probably be the main representation of this exhibition. “To me, a mantle has long been something you use to hide something,” Tamamoto says. “Also, if I see clothing hung outside to dry, I can imagine without trying to who wears it.” This sensibility of hers took its form as “Mantle.”
A black, smooth torso of a female with a sexy, red lingerie. On the contrary, the surface of the mantle over her shoulders is covered by blue and yellow projections, and looks as if something was coming out of the torso. Why did Tamamoto choose the black torso? To my question, she replied with a clear answer. “Though women act instinctively, it is generally said they are realistic. They are romantic, but when they get irrational, they look ugly. Though they have ambivalent feelings on the bottom of their heart, they fix their eyes on the reality without closing their eyes. I feel black is the symbolic color of women.”
However beautiful a woman might look, she has ambivalent feelings deep inside of her. She usually hides them, and that’s why those hidden emotions leak out from the interstices of her clothing. Evidently, not everyone can see such inner world. Tamamoto sees it with her mind’s eyes.
This erotic torso doesn’t have arms or legs. This is why concept and eyes of people who appreciate this work naturally focus on her dark black abdomen. This method is also impressive. The back of the torso is colorful, too. This is a 360-degree piece that you can appreciate from every angle.
Other signature works will also be exhibited: “Perfect Accordance,” which combines each half of a “white” body and “black” soul, “The Eternal Sleep,” in which every cell gets together for the last time in one line at the time of her grandmother’s death, “Mind’s Eye,” which sees the reality though it appears that it doesn’t really see anything. All of them are the representation of her efforts to depict the inner world of human beings. Also in France, the universality and high artistic quality of her works is highly appreciated, and many people all over the world are now waiting to look at them in their home countries.
Her collection, which reflects Tamamoto’s continuous efforts to try and develop a new touch, will be exhibited at the village of Ainokura, designated as a World Heritage site of UNESCO, at Gokayama in the city of Nanto, Toyama Prefecture. It will be a face-to-face confrontation between traditional Japanese culture, which has supported human activities for a long time, and the artist of modern art who aims to continue to capture people’s heart for the coming 100 years. Will either of them win, or will they combine with each other to create new harmony? I invite all visitors to feel the tension of this confrontation. I say this because it is Tamamoto’s wish to offer her fans a surprise, an emotion and joy. Nothing could be more enjoyable for the artist and visitors to see stereotypical ideas on “art” falling apart.
Journalist, Center of Redaction
The Mainichi Newspapers, Tokyo