Tomoko Konoike: Flip @ Artizon Museum, Tokyo Original dates: April 18-June 21 2020 New dates: June 23-October 25
Konoike is an artist of nature. Her constant curiosity leads her again and again to the countryside and the wilderness, from which she always returns with bags of great stories and wonderful inspirations. She observes, feels, and imagines, never in a patronizing attitude. Consequently, all creatures, human and non-human, real and fictional, cohabit in her work, and it’s not all fairy tales. They exist in collaboration and in competition, in reciprocity and in antagonism. Unlike many contemporary artists diving in the environmentalist discussion, eager to find a way out for the human society, Konoike doesn’t turn to nature for a solution, but for nature itself. Such a link with it provides a reason for her work to interact with the early 19th century Realist paintings of the pre-industrial era, before the birth of the modern anxiety.
On the other hand, Konoike shares an earnest commitment to art creation with those earlier painters. Ever since the meticulous drawings in the early stage of her career, Konoike has always been paying careful attention to every detail in her work, whether it’s some-10-meter leather kite or a placemat-size sewing piece. While doing so, she assembles the media and techniques that work best for her, from hanging dozens of animal furs to deconstructing revolving lanterns.
Accommodating a selection of old works and new pieces, the exhibition at Artizon Museum doesn’t aim to tell a linear story or present an ordered evolution. The handout is deliberately placed near the exit instead of the entrance. Even if one successfully locates it before walking through the whole show and takes a copy with them, it is still hardly helpful, as the numbering of the works jumps here and there, refusing to follow any predictable route. This, not without a sense of innocuous prank, adds up to the idea of flip— encouraging glances from unexpected angles while dismissing any preset perspectives. It doesn’t matter which comes first in Konoike’s cosmos, where the audience is asked to see all of them through her kaleidoscope.
Tomoko Konoike, “mimio” original drawings, 2001 | Camille Corot, The Toutain Farm at Honfleur, 1845 | Tomoko Konoike, “Booking Burning—World of Wonder” original drawings, 2011
Tomoko Konoike, Shadow picture lantern, 2020