Portal to Unknown Realm: about TOMITA Yukiko's "Flower"

MOTOE Kunio (Professor at Tama Art University / Director at Fuchu Museum)

The very first time I became conscious of TOMITA Yukiko's existence dates back to 20 years ago. At that time she was exhibiting a very colourful china object in a gallery in Ginza. From this encounter, I was struck with a unique vividness of colour and an overwhelming freeness, as if she was from a completely other world. This perception stayed like fragmented memory in the corner of my mind, unconnected from the rest until this day.

Next time I became strongly aware of her work was at "VOCA Exhibition 96'" (It is already 10 years ago). From recommendation of KONDO Yukio, she exhibited a triptych of lotus flower there. She was awarded with a commendation prize because of people's fascination with the purity in her work that was like a Buddhist painting far from reality. (In my opinion, at VOCA exhibition I was rather surprised with artworks that were given commendation prizes, not to mention TOMITA Yukiko's work). Looking at this triptych of lotus flower felt like seeing another side of TOMITA. But it became apparent from this work that she was trying to reach a fresh ground that is somewhere far beyond this transient world.

When did she start drawing sky or landscape? It is pretty obvious to state but they looked very ordinary, yet at the same time they were images of sky and landscape I have never seen before. They seemed almost something not of this world. They were actually an image of boundary or in another word interface between this present world and the realm surpassing it.

The previous exhibition at Gallery Tsubaki gave TOMITA Yukiko a confidence to reach a new stage in her pursuit of expressions that depicted a spiritual clearing of the sky. At this exhibition, the wall was crowded with many equal-sized square canvases with pictures of close-up fruit. They looked like heavy and solid pottery objects. They were not just fruit, but more like beautiful alien substances. I have just used the word "beautiful" which is a little outdated, but I cannot find any other words that describe the feeling coming out of her work. They displayed a sense of sparkling objects with a complete sheen, right in front of my eyes and brought on a strange feeling that there was a very ripe fruit that cannot be eaten.

Now this exhibition "Flower" has arrived. In any cuture and throughout the ages, there are countless drawings of flowers, but they are normally drawn from a distance as if they are a bouquet of flowers and at eye level.. If I limit my discussion to modern art, "Odilon Redon's latter years' work, "Flowers" comes to my mind. It is one of surrealist art and flowers are kept in a simple vase. In this drawing, by making the connection between flowers and background ambiguous, it gives an impression that flowers are floating. But in comparison to TOMITA's work, it doesn't have any focal points that even come close to her striking petals. It is not well known that Piet Mondrian, who was pursing the absolutely abstract expression, made living out of theosophical pictures of flowers at one stage of his life. Even in those drawings, it is only limited to a side-view composition of a stalk of flower. When I move to talk about Georgia O'Keeffe, the appearance start to change a little. The petal itself is almost abstract in its form drawn from a slant upper space and at the same time reveals a kind of dynamism. In another word, it is pointing to a direction in search for plastic intensity.

TOMITA Yukiko has a model composition for flowers drawn in the past. They are drawn with principally a normal composition, capturing the object roughly. However, this time with whatever reason it is, they are composed in the way to show a close-up of the flower petal from vertically above. Unless it is in the plant encyclopaedia, this way of drawing flowers are quite peculiar. Having said that, as a result of this peculiarity, an unexpected unity between a person looking at the drawing and the petal of flower springs up. It cannot be overlooked that here is an opening to a new dimension, a portal to an unknown realm.

"Unknown realm", it doesn't mean a place where monsters live, but it could be said that it is TOMITA's external self against inside space, similar to that of contents and a container. As we get closer to the absolute objectivity of the petal and the artist, what we are truly looking at is not an external objective flower. It is inside, a reflection of eternal flower. In there we find TOMITA Yukiko's secret to the serenity of "Flower". For us, we can only see what we can see.(2006)