{փWv@@ @@@@@@Keiko ASO @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Curator, The Museum of Modern Art, Toyama




g Mantle h and the village of Ainokura --- Works of Nana TAMAMOTO





In the spring of 2007, Nana Tamamoto will hold personal exhibitions at two venues in Toyama Prefecture: the village of Taira within the city of Nanto where she was born, and the city of Takaoka. Taira, which has been designated a World Heritage site of UNESCO, is a village of traditional Japanese houses whose architectural style is known as Gokayama Gassho-zukuri.  The exhibitions will take place at two of those Gassho-zukuri houses.  This will be the second time that Tamamoto has chosen traditional Japanese houses as a venue of her exhibition.  In 2004, she also held the personal exhibitions in Toyama Prefecture, and at that time, the exhibitions were held simultaneously at two different old Japanese houses, both of which are nationally-designated cultural properties: one was g the House of Uchiyama, h which used to be a farmhouse of a wealthy farmer, and the other was g the House of Kanaoka, h which used to be a house of a pharmacist. 



g I donft feel like exhibiting my works in a white, square-shaped box made just for artworks,h says Tamamoto.  g Rather, I feel a strong bond with such old traditional houses which have survived to demonstrate a long line of people who lived there.  With them I feel entranced.h  What she says might sound familiar to us since we say g a sign of people. h  As this expression mentions, strangely enough, we sometimes feel as if we could sense the presence of something left by a person who lived in that house, though the house itself is now deserted.  This reminds me of her exhibitions which were held simultaneously in 2004.  I remember, in two old houses previously mentioned, Tamamoto created her own world by capturing and combining the different atmosphere each room has, such as a guest room, zashiki (a tatami floored room), and a living room.  She displayed her artworks on tatami and tokonoma (a small raised alcove in a Japanese style room with a tatami floor), or in a room with a narrow ceiling and dim light, all of those are generally considered to be unfavorable conditions for a good exhibition.  I recall she appeared to enjoy displaying her artworks in such rooms as if she had been having a dialogue with them. 



The style of Tamamoto is also very unique.  Because of her fragile health and weak eyes from her childhood, she says she had been living g in a world of obscurity, h which was a world just with vague colors.  She could, however, recognize who was who, and made efforts so that she could manage to perform normal daily activities.  Perhaps, it happened about this time that she was given the ability to see something not only visible but also invisible.  Then it was when she was a junior-high school student that she regained her eyesight miraculously, and this event turned her eyes into the world of art where she could express her own inner world.  After studying art at high school and university, she started to work as a designer of textile and quit her creative activities temporarily.  However, she was caught by her illness and forced to stop working.  Having recovered her health, she began to focus on her creative activities.  Since then, she has established her original style now seen in her artworks with materials such as fabrics and threads, building on her career as a designer of textile. 



Each of Tamamotofs work has its own clear message.  Every piece depicts what she was feeling or the situation she was in at the time when she was creating that work.  g Mantle,h the latest work, was materialized from the idea she has been keeping since her adolescence.  The black mannequin of a woman (a torso without a head and arms) that is wearing a red lingerie is being covered by a mantle.  When I looked at it very carefully, I saw lumps of fabrics in various colors principally black and red, and threads intertwining each other rise and range as if they had jumped out of the mantle.  I found myself feeling shocked somehow, and almost turned my eyes away.



g I think women are covered by something like a mantle, h says Tamamoto.  g Previously, I couldnft capture its clear image and such a mantle was just simply black to me.  However, Ifve got the sense that time has come and now I can materialize my image as my work. h  For her, I think such a mantle is a symbol of womenfs ego, instinct, and pride, or mixture of all.  Women generally live their life with ambivalent emotions, and always mind what other people might think about them.  Like Tamamoto, being one of the women in their 30s in the modern Japanese society, I can relate myself with her work so deeply that I can sense this ambivalent feelings as my own.  I desire to reveal myself, while I desire not to.  I feel this way when I look at her works, sometime with pain and some other time with sympathy.  Facing with g Mantle, h I remember her words: g Ifve got the sense that time has come and now I can materialize my image as my work. h  As she puts it, I believe Tamamoto created this work by analyzing the feelings she had at the time of developing it.  Not only g Mantleh but also all other artworks of Tamamoto deeply touch our heart.



g If you try to create a cape again once you get older, it might be a different one.  What do you think? h when I asked her, g I doubt that Ifll create a cape again when I get older because I donft think Ifll need it then, h replied Tamamoto with a smile.  



Nana Tamamoto is an artist who casts herself on her artworks.  During the installation process, she develops her exhibition while harmonizing her works with the atmosphere of the venues.  I believe Tamamoto appreciates those moments when she can develop herself by developing her own works.  Ifm very much looking forward to seeing the world of Nana Tamamoto at the Gassho-zukuri houses in the village of Ainokura as well as meeting Tamamoto herself who needs to wear a mantle now and who wonft need it anymore in the future. 





Keiko ASO
Curator, The Museum of Modern Art, Toyama