SHINODA Toko (1913-2021) - original paintings
A trailblazing force
There is no easy category in which to put Toko Shinoda. Most artists in Japan have their associations, their disciples, their "senseis" (teachers)---Shinoda has never joined an association or accepted any students and probably would admit to no influence other than that of the Chinese literati of the Tang Dynasty.
Born in 1913, she studied calligraphy from the age of 6. Fascinated by the discipline of the brush, she became a teacher of calligraphy but then rebelled against the exactness of the art, preferring to transform her calligraphic strokes into an abstract art form. Some of her pieces merely evoke an ideogram and Shinoda has always been happy that foreigners who don’t read Japanese can still appreciate her work for the balance and the subtlety of each composition.
Shinoda traveled to New York and spent time in Manhattan in the late 50s and early 60s.The legendary art dealer Betty Parsons exhibited Shinoda’s work several times and the artist gained a loyal following of people who were intrigued by this Asian take on Abstract Expressionism.
Returning to Japan she threw herself into painting, deriving inspiration from her in-depth readings of the Chinese classics. Even today, she can recite lengthy passages from ancient texts, just to prove a point in a contemporary discussion. Shinoda began to work in the lithographic medium in the mid 60s. Her editions were printed for her by the master printer Kimura Kihachi and they enjoyed their collaboration: Shinoda drew onto the plate the image that she decided to create, and Kimura then used his technical expertise to bring out onto the sheets of paper the texture that so characterizes her compositions. Once he finished pulling the edition, Shinoda took one of her myriad brushes to add, by hand, the touches of color that bring her works to life.
Collectors appreciate that each piece is an original because of the hand added work. She says that while she is working on one piece, she always gets an idea for the next one. Since Shinoda-san stopped releasing lithographs since 2007, I am now concentrating on her wonderful paintings. I have a small stock of Tolman Collection edition lithographs still available, so please contact me directly should you wish to see them.
Edited March 1, 2021
Shinoda-san sadly passed away within a few weeks of her 108th birthday. I feel grateful and honored to have known her for most of my life. I will miss her very much and am glad that her exceptional paintings and lithographs will be eternal memories of her artistic legacy.
New York Times obituary, here.
Washington Post obituary, here.
CNN obituary, here.
Collections (non exhaustive list) :
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, New York
British Museum, London
Brooklyn Museum, New York
Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio
Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, U.S.A.
Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, The Netherlands
Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
Luxembourg Royal Collection
Metropolitan Museum, New York
Museum Folkwang, Essn, Germany
Museum fur Ostasiatische Kunst, Berlin, Germany
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Museum of Modern Art, Toyama
National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Rijksmuseum Kröller - Müller, Otterlo, The Netherlands
Singapore Art Museum
National Museum of Asian Art, Washington D.C.
Smith College Museum of Art, USA
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Stadtisches Museum den Haag, The Netherlands
The Art Institute of Chicago, U.S.A.
The Ford Foundation Collection, New York, U.S.A.
The Rockefeller Foundation Collection, New York, U.S.A.
Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, Haifa, Israel
Toko Shinoda Art Space, Seki City, Gifu
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne