Often depicting anonymous women in the act of floating above or disappearing into otherworldly backgrounds, Tomoko Kashiki’s surreal paintings have stood out among the young generation of artists from Japan, gaining tremendous attention from critics and scholars from both local and international art scenes. Born in 1982 in Kyoto, the young artist received her B.F.A. and M.F.A. from the Kyoto City University of Arts in 2006 and 2008 respectively, and was soon featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Japan and abroad, most notably with the participation in the “BYE BYE KITTY!!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art” exhibition curated by David Elliott at the Japan Society in New York. Painted in 2010, Hem of a Skirt Shouldn’t Get Wet, is an exceptional work that not only showcases the artist’s unique rendering of the popular water theme, but also displays the skillful blend between the traditional Eastern aesthetics and Western sensibility.

Dream and desire remain to be central motifs for Kashiki, who has stated that her paintings are “a manifestation of [her] inner landscape”.1 The intricate lines and superior rendering of the woman image at the same time would reflect a trace of elegance derived from the artist’s previous training in Nihonga, a traditional form of the Japanese painting style. This can certainly be seen through the lot on offer, in which a slender woman donning a magenta dress is depicted standing among water at the center of the canvas. The delicate twirl of the two arms along with the folding of the drapes on the dress certainly demonstrate the artist’s superior handling of the various painting mediums including acrylic, pastel, colour pencil, and others. The seemingly empty and flattened backdrop in reality bears different perspective elements, as marked by the shadow of the wall adornment and the glimpse of the staircase in the upper right corner, exemplifying Kashiki’s brilliant treatment of compositional elements. The effect of water, a reccurring image in the artist’s works, is meticulously depicted through the fluid reflection of the legs and the intertwining of endless organic loops. To examine closer, it is truly the delicacy and extremely accomplished fluid brushwork as seen in this work that has contributed to Tomoko Kashiki’s ever growing popularity in the Japanese art scene. 

1 Ozawa Tsuyoshi, “Exhibition Reviews04: Kashiki Tomoko”, ARTiT, 2009, p. 102  

Contemporary Asian Art

6 October 2013 | HONG KONG