@@@@Edward M. Gomez{փWv@@@Journalist, author, critic, graphic designer, curator and environmental activist

Life Force

The Japanese artist Nana Tamamoto, who is in her early 30s, was born and brought up in Toyama Prefecture, in west-central Japan, where, as a child, she suffered from vision problems. She overcame them and went on to specialize in textile arts at Seian University of Art and Design, eventually getting a job as a designer at an Osaka-based fashion company. About 10 years ago, after recovering from a serious illness, Tamamoto made a big decision---to take the plunge and commit her energy full-time to making art.

Since then, buoyed by the gganbaru spirith of which her countrymen are so proud (ganbaru is a Japanese verb that means gto work hard and persevereh), she has seen her career take off. In one of her most memorable exhibitions, in 2007, she showed mixed-media paintings and similarly textured, abstract sculptures inside the traditional, thatched-roof houses of a historic village in Toyama. Late last year, she presented a new body of work at Galerie Miyawaki, one of Kyotofs oldest and best-known galleries.

To the making of her colorful, abstract works, Tamamoto brings a well-balanced mixture of spontaneity and deliberation. She gives each of her paintings a title (for example, Delusion, Perplexity or After a Party is Over) that reflects the emotional or psychological state she was in when she created it. The foldable, six-foot-wide triptych shown here, made in 2011, is called Inside and Outside.

In her paintings, Tamamoto uses scraps of fabric, which she sews and forms into flattened-bobble shapes or into sinewy strips that resemble roots or other organic forms. With its rich surface textures, her work shares affinities with that of the avant-garde, abstract paintings of the art informel artists in Europe and of the rule-breaking Gutai artists in Japan during the immediate post-World War
Uperiod. The artist says she believes it is important to have a gpure hearth and to approach life with the sense of compassion and understanding that flow from that guileless outlook on the world. gIfm interested in the life force; I try to express it in my work,h she says.

Edward M. Gomez

Edward M. Gomez is a critic, journalist and author. He has written articles and essays for many publications, including the New York Times, Japan Times, Art in America, Metropolis,
Art &Antique, Artnews and Raw Vision.