Nana Tamamoto "Life Source"
The Japanese artist Nana Tamamoto, who is now forty years old, was born and brought up in Toyama Prefecture, in west-central Japan, where, as a child, she suffered from eyesight problems. As she overcame them, she took great pleasure in making art and, perhaps in response to her earlier struggle to see clearly, to savor vivid colors and bold shapes.
After specializing in textile arts at Seian University of Art and Design, east of Kyoto, she worked as a designer at an Osaka-based fashion company. Then she suffered an illness about which she does not speak much today but that deeply influenced her attitude about life and work; after recovering from it, in the early 2000s, Tamamoto decided to concentrate full-time on making art.
Over the years she has shown mixed-media paintings and similarly abstract sculptures at various venues in Japan and overseas. In her newest works, which she is showing at Galerie Miyawaki in Kyoto in an exhibition titled “Life Source,” Tamamoto continues her exploration of color, abstract form and especially texture, which has become a particularly visible and expressive aspect of her art. Placed flat on a painting’s surface or gently wadded into tufts or crater-like shapes and then saturated with color, the artist’s three-dimensional elements are not merely decorative embellishments but rather essential elements of her compositions. Their forms may allude to or suggest body parts, organic shapes found in nature, tiny cells or agglomerations of planets in imaginary galaxies.
To some degree, with their rich surface textures, her works share affinities with those of the avant-garde, abstract paintings of the art informel artists in Europe and of the experimental Gutai artists in Japan during the immediate post-World War II period. Similarly, the surfaces of Tamamoto’s paintings are alive with unbridled energy and a sense of magical transformation.
A sense of lightness ? of poetic spirit and of artistic voice ? seems to have crept into Tamamoto’s work with her more recent use of gentle washes of transparent or translucent colors. In fact, it is a reflection of the artist’s ongoing philosophical interest in the life force and in natural forces in general (hence the title of her exhibition), especially as someone who has faced related physical and spiritual challenges, overcome them and found strength and satisfaction in a sense of survival and perseverance. In the past she has told me that, together, these ideas and concerns constitute an abiding, central theme of her art.
Edward M. Gómez