The Lines that Form a Pair; a Firm Sense of Existence

Eigo (Eternal) 2012, sumi, silver paint, gold ground, washi paper 60 x 240
Isshun (Moment) 2012, sumi, gold paint, silver ground, washi paper 60 x 240

“Eternal” and “Moment”

 A single line races through space filled with light.
 Both “Eternal” and “Moment” were done by Shinoda at the age of 99. The two are completely independent in composition, but form a pair, one depicting time extending into infinity and the other a brief instant in time. One is on a gold ground, the other on a silver ground. A slim vertical stroke in silver paint hangs at the center of “Eternal,” poised in taut stillness. In “Moment,” a slender golden flash slices across the plane, shattering the tranquility. What ties the two pieces together is the intensity of these two sharp lines. There is nothing extraneous; only the defining presence of the single line that inhabits the space.
 For Shinoda, painting lines is cutting space, imbuing open space with infinite extension and tension, transcending the borders of inside and outside, existence and nothingness. Through the brush, the moment that appears in the mind’s eye takes the form of line and appears to us as eternal beauty.

 Shinoda will turn 100 on March 28 this year [2013]. She began as a calligrapher, but grew impatient with the confining rules and practices of conventional calligraphy. She became an abstract artist, and through the two-year experience of living in the United States not long after World War II, she acquired a distinctive style of expression. In the 1960s, after her return to Japan, her works featured a number of thick lines and in the 1970s began to display a distinctively Japanese sense of art. Beginning in the 1980s the lyrical aspect of earlier works gradually disappeared and was replaced by qualities of interaction and tension between lines and surfaces, imbuing the open space with a conspicuous presence. Later she began to create works displaying diverse expressions in sumi lines—thick, surface-like lines blending into washi paper and slender lines drifting in the light of a gold or silver ground. As she passed her 100th birthday, Toko seems to have nearly perfected her sense of line. A single line splitting a self-contained, serene surface creates a new space—this beautiful form represents the crystallization of Toko Shinoda spirit of form.

 Shinoda, who lives in the now, says the age of 100 is yet another point of passage. She continues her odyssey, pursuing as-yet-unseen forms, back and forth over the borderlines of characters and lines, over the borderlines between calligraphy and painting.