‘Koko Ouou’


Staff Writer

Satoshi Koyama Gallery
Closes Dec. 24

Since prehistoric times, human beings have always searched for better ways to communicate. Art was originally a way to share ideas with others and record information for the future. But how images or symbols are actually interpreted has always depended on the viewer and his or her personal experience.

Tomoko Kawao, an artist based in Kyoto, challenges one art form that does limit its interpretations — calligraphy.

Though she has been fascinated by the simple and yet intense expression of calligraphy since the age of 6, Kawao found that the more she learned about her chosen art form, the more she realized its weaknesses.

“The existing meanings of calligraphic characters limited what could be expressed by them,” she says. “So I started making non-literal works, because I wanted to find a way to express myself in my own way.”

That is not to say that she sees no potential in calligraphy — she uses the same brushstrokes and style, it is only the classic use of words that she abandons.

Her dynamic lines that emerge from a single dot where the brush hits paper, take no specific shape or form. Yet the different densities of ink and the rhythmical motion that it took to create each stroke are clearly visible.

Using enormous strokes that cross each other at different angles on large-scale pieces, her work also creates a sense of space and the illusion of depth. The intensity of the lines and dots and the contrasting black ink against white are like looking into the ocean’s deep waters. But in its simplicity, it may, for another viewer, evoke a completely different experience.

Kawao says that having “the imagination to see invisible subjects” is the concept of this exhibition’s work. And as the series title, “correlation,” suggests, the viewer’s personal experience, how they relate and interpret the pieces, is key.

Being able to imagine and interpret an unseen meaning from visual stimulation, says Kawao, can only make human society better. This is her only message, the rest is up to you to figure out.

Satoshi Koyama Gallery is on the 5th floor of Shin Miyako Bldg. in Chuo-ku; admission is free; closed on Mon., Tue., Sun. and national holidays: open 6:30-9 p.m. on Wed., 1-7 p.m. on Thu., Fri. and Sat. For more information, visit tokyo.satoshikoyamagallery.com.