Works of Nana TAMAMOTO
Facing works of Nana Tamamoto, what I sense vividly is the existence of something deeply human. Of course, artworks are the result of human creation, so there is no wonder many artworks reflect humanity of artists. In some cases, the theme of the work itself is simply “human.” Tamamoto is no exception: she depicts “human” in her works. They always reflect the inner world of human beings, sometime with a sense of humor, and some other time, with seriousness.
Take a look at “The Eternal Sleep” of 2001. This is the work Tamamoto painted at a brush to mourn over the loss of her grandmother. Something in a bright red shape is painted as if it was floating in the sparkling silver. Looking at it very carefully, you’ll see fabrics, sheep wool, and gauzes in various forms and colors sewn on the painting, and colored with oil and acrylic paints. To me, it seems that it’s more of a painting depicting something specific such as a cell of a human being, an element of the universe, or soul of a human, than a painting depicting something completely abstract.
Talking about colors, forms, or her artistic skills, not everything is perfect. Rather, some of her works give us the impression that she is showing her inner world so passionately. Others may look somewhat unsophisticated. However, though they evoke such impressions, once those awkward shapes, heavy-looking colors, and unique textures touch our heart through our eyes, we will begin to find each one of them so clear as crystals, and to feel our heart resonate with those images.
After graduating from university of art and design, she had worked for a clothing company for a few years. Then in 2000, Tamamoto began her career as an artist, and since then she has focused on creating her artworks. It was her losing health that changed the course of her life, and this experience made her look deep inside of herself, try to realize what life means, and express herself through her creation. She hasn’t created many works so far. Each work, however, was born because it had to, and the reason to be born was different in each case. Works such as “Woman Body,” “Body,” “Inseparable,” “Labyrinth,” “Compassion,” “Selfishness,” and “Affection” are good example. Each of them reflects various emotions inside of Tamamoto, such as her feelings for her illness, her love toward her own family, and her strong attachment to life.
In Japan today, it has become difficult to find artists who are trying to face what a “human being” is and to stick to their own style to express themselves. I think it’s because we can get everything we want in this modern world. It seems we can choose whatever we want since the world is full of choices. We even think we can easily get what looks nice, fun, or cool, and try to grab them. However, being asked about what we really need, can we sincerely face each of the things we consider truly precious? Can we face human nature, or face ourselves, without turning our eyes away? Can we really do so without feeling obligated, or refusing to do so?
Tamamoto’s works have their own voices. She has found such voices in the process of facing and cutting deep inside of herself, while living in this reality where everyone fantasizes, acts by greed, and clings to many things. In this modern world, we hear her voice through her artworks, and find something really rare and precious in them.
Two old Japanese houses have been chosen to be the venues of this exhibition: “the House of Uchiyama,” which used to be a farmhouse of a wealthy farmer, and “the House of Kanaoka,” which used to be a house of a pharmacist. Both of them are remains from Edo and Meiji Period. These venues have been chosen because Tamamoto expressed her strong intention to exhibit her collection at such old Japanese houses. Being a great-granddaughter of an owner of a nice and big farmhouse, she feels the trace of human activities from such houses as well as a bond with them.
“Mind’s Eye” and “Clairvoyance,” both of which are latest works and will be exhibited at this exhibition, represent human eyes that can penetrate what is hidden and cannot be seen from our eyes. What does Tamamoto try to see with her eyes different in shapes and colors wide open? “Don’t let your eyes be clouded: that is important,” says Tamamoto. Taking her words to my heart, I want to fix my eyes on the coming artworks of Tamamoto, who tries to see her works, human beings, and the world as something organically linked, with her unclouded eyes.
Curator, The Museum of Modern Art, Toyama