From Pomegranates, Dahlias and Rumps to the Cosmos.

KONDO Yukio (Associate professor at Keio University / Art critic)

How are people viewing Tomita's works only recently to interpret these flower paintings? Flowers, so "O'Keefes"? Huge detailed canvases, thus "Hyperrealism"? Very likely I'd launch into some such commentary were I seeing her works for the first time.

As I've already written on several occasions elsewhere, Tomita began her artistic career in the mid-1980s doing installations, which were all the rage at the time. Later, after various experiments with different mediums, she arrived in the 1990s at painting. No, "arrived" isn't the word; rather she "came home." Her given themes are best expressed pictorially, hence she seems to have returned to painting after exhausting all other possibilities.

Tomita consistently finds her subjects in onFe characteristic form: in-bounded shapes revealed when inner pressure builds to bursting, a wealth of spatial relations tensed between external and internal. Initially, she sought to express that vision by placing sculptures and objects within three-dimensional spaces, only later coming to the realisation that as a vision it would be better expressed in pictorial space. At first she painted in an abstract manner, but no doubt came to feel that it lacked reality. Tomita found herself "desperate to paint real oils" and so began painting actual scenery and plants. She seems to have difficulty expressing her concepts in words; she always works instinctively, desiring only to paint without intellectualising. In the beginning, she painted whole plants, leaves and all, but then gradually she zoomed in just on the flowers. Parallel to this, fruit also became important subjects for her, always shown from the direction of the calyx or from below; almost never from the side. And around this same time, she started talking about wanting to paint plump human, particularly female bottoms.

Looking at her works this time around, the picture planes zoom in even further, depicting only the centres of the dahlias, drawing us in with tremendous power. On first viewing, I was somehow reminded of hollow sea anemone-like creatures. Openings where internal cavities meet the external morphology are common to many lifeforms, from microbes to our very own bodies. Or no, not even just organisms, everything from water currents and atmospheric convection to magnetic force lines and cosmic structures exhibit similar shapes. Has not Tomita's vision been shaped by the real world? The reality Tomita seeks is not the "material" reality of the flower, but rather what we might call a reality beyond the material aspect. As if in answer to these intense dahlias, the pomegranates she often paints have done their part, cracking open to spill their pulp. Which resembles a more recent favourite subject of hers: salmon roe, yet another shape packing a microcosmos, ready to explode any moment. One inside the next, this endless chain of nested structures makes my head spin. (2010)
(translated by Alfred Birnbaum)