When speaking of Japanese art, people use words such as wabi and sabi, words that speak of a delicate sensibility and an ephemeral existence. Viewing the retrospective currently being hosted at the Musee Tomo in Tokyo's central Toranomon district in celebration of the 100th birthday of Toko Shinoda, the first word that comes to mind is "power."
The power is observed in the elements that constitute Shinoda's paintings — the strength of her calligraphy-style strokes, the stark intersections of lines and planes and the evocative contrasts she creates in her ink between shades of black and gray.
Although the market for Shinoda's work transcends her own culture — owned and appreciated as it is internationally — it carries with it the strength of a tradition that defines the Far East. Looking at her paintings, one can almost catch a glimpse of the artist centering her mind as she rubs the ink stick on the ink stone, and experience the tension as she first envisions on the blank surface the design she has created in her mind, and finally commits it to paper. Calligraphy is an art that is unforgiving of ill-made strokes. So too is Abstract Expressionism, the international art movement that influenced Shinoda's work. Her strokes are well and carefully thought out, but executed with a determination, suppleness and immediacy.