Toko Shinoda (1913-2021)
Noh Play “Shite”
Lithograph and colour on paper, framed and glazed
Signed Toko, Shinoda, titled, numbered 9/50 and dated (19)99, embossed stamp printed by K Kimura
Print: H. 38cm x W. 28cm (15” x 11”) approx.
Frame: H. 51cm x W. 40.5cm (20¼” x 16”)
Private collection, UK;
Artelino, Icking, Germany, July 2010.
Toko Shinoda was born in Manchuria and moved with her family to Tokyo in 1914. Her father was a keen calligrapher and his interest encouraged Shinoda to practise calligraphy from the age of six years old. By her early twenties she was an independent calligraphy teacher and against her father’s wishes decided not to marry but to pursue a career as an artist instead.
Shinoda had her first solo calligraphy exhibition in 1936 at Kyukyodo Gallery, Tokyo, and by 1945 she was producing work which departed significantly from the rigid forms of traditional brushwork. Following numerous solo exhibitions of calligraphy her work started to change and in her early forties the focus moved to compositions consisting mainly of thin freely applied brushstrokes. Having a strong-willed character and a desire to develop her creativity beyond the limitations of classical calligraphy and its restrains, Shinoda decided to break away and begun to produce abstract works using traditional materials. This development received severe criticism from the established calligraphy circles of Japan, however her work was recognised by major international art institutions and she was included in two exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1953 and 1954 respectively.
In 1956 Shinoda moved to New York where she would be free to further develop her artistic expression and mingle with people who believed in and supported her work such as the painter Franz Kline (1910-1962) and long-term dealer and friend Norman Tolman. At this time Abstract Expressionism was at the forefront of the American art scene giving the artist a rich source of inspiration and development possibilities.
Having established herself internationally Shinoda returned to Japan in 1958 with a renewed confidence enabling her to develop further and to begin using bolder and thicker brushstrokes alluding to the strength of Abstract Expressionism. In 1960 following the advice of fellow artist and printmaker Arthur Flory (1914-1972) Shinoda added another facet to her oeuvre and began to produce lithographs, a medium which she conquered with ease. Having reached a mature and distinctive style she continued to use traditional black and vermillion sumi (ink) in her paintings composed of thick and thin elegant brushstrokes often adorned with calligraphy on a surface of canvas, paper or silver leaf.
A true intellectual Shinoda developed her trademark tool; a long, thin brush. In this tailor-made brush, with a handle longer and slimmer than usual and with extra-long bristles, Shinoda found a tool which easily facilitates the circulation of energy between her hand and the painted surface. The longer brush enables more delicate uninterrupted movements which according to the artist make her feel like a white witch using her magic wand.
In 1962 she was commissioned to design the theatre curtain and ceramic relief for the foyer of Nichinan Cultural Centre at Miyazaki and later she created a mural for the Yoyogi National Stadium built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. In 1974 she completed another significant and innovative commission to paint the fusuma(sliding doors) of Zōzōji temple, Tokyo and in 1993 she gained a commission for the new Imperial Palace Residence, Tokyo.
Shinoda claimed the varying juxtaposed brushstrokes represent the diversity of her character, expressing both her tender and dynamic elements. Still relevant today and open to personal interpretation her work is a lyrical inspiration to many giving it a wide global appeal.
Every morning, I pick up a brush and do some work, even just a little bit. Without it, I wouldn’t feel quite alive, or I wouldn’t feel like I should be living without doing some work. You could say it’s a sense of responsibility. It’s the proof that I am alive.
Works by the artist can be found in the collections of: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; British Museum, London; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Cincinnati Museum, Ohio; Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, the Netherlands; Metropolitan Museum, New York; Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany; Museum Fur Ostasiatische Kunst, Berlin; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Rijksmuseum Kröller – Müller, Otterlo, The Netherlands; Singapore Art Museum; Smith College Museum of Art, Massachusetts; Smithsonian Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington D.C.; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, Haifa, Israel; Gifu Collection of Modern Art; Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Hokkaido Prefectural Museum of Hakodate; Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu; Museum of Modern Art, Toyama; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Toko Shinoda Art Space, Seki City, Gifu; Yale University Art Gallery, Connecticut.
Selected Group Exhibitions:
1953 Japanese Architecture and Calligraphy, Museum of Modern Art, New York
1954 Japanese Contemporary Calligraphy, Museum of Modern Art, New York
1955 Contemporary Japanese Calligraphy – Art Sumi, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Abstract Art Exhibition – Japan and USA, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
1958 Development of Japanese Abstract Painting Exhibition, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
1959 Hakuin, Shiko Munakata, Toko Shinoda and Nankoku Hidai Exhibition, Rijksmuseum Kröller- Müller, Otterlo
1961 6th Sao Paulo Biennale
Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture, Carnegie Art Institute
Japanese Contemporary Painting, Akademie der Kunst, Berlin
1962 Paintings and Sculpture in Modern Japan, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
1971 10 Artist- Exhibition – Dubuffet, Hartung, De Kooning, Millares, Miro, Picasso, Shinoda, Soulages, Tapies, Zao Wou-ki, Royal Dublin Society, Ireland
1973 Development of Postwar Japanese Art-Abstract and Non-Figurative, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
1979 Okada, Shinoda, Tsutaka – Three Pioneers of Abstract Painting in 20th century Japan, The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.
1984 Ancient Visions through Modern Eyes – Paintings and Prints by Toko Shinoda, sculpture by Elizabeth de Cuevas, the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut
1989 Painting and Writing: Lettering to be Painted – Painting to be Written, Hakodate Museum of Art, Hokkaido
1990 Japanese Art, Retretti Art Centre, Finland
1992 Calligraphy and Painting, the Passionate Age: 1945- 1969, O Art Museum, Tokyo
1994 Japanese Art After 1945: Scream Against the Sky, Yokohama Museum of Art (Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Modern Art, San Fransisco)
1996 Retrospective Exhibition, Singapore Art Museum
1995 Tracks of Japanese Postwar Art, Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo
2009 Japanese Femininity – Shinoda, Iwami, Matsubara, Oda and Shiomi, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki
2015 Breaking Barriers – Japanese Women Print Artists 1050-2000, Portland Art Museum, Oregon
Selected Solo Exhibitions:
1936 Kyukyodo Gallery, Tokyo
1956 Yoseido Gallery, Tokyo
Swetzoff Gallery, Boston
1957 Bertha Schaefer’s Gallery, New York
Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati
Art Institute of Chicago
Japan Club of New York
Galerie La Hune, Paris
1958 Jefferson Place Gallery, Washington G.C.
1959 Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels
1965 Betty Parsons Gallery, New York
1971 Betty Parsons Gallery, New York
1976 The Tolman Collection, Tokyo
1977 Betty Parsons Gallery, New York
1980 Creation- Tradition, Zōzōji temple, Tokyo
1982 Silver and Black, Galerie Tokoro, Tokyo
1986 Toko Shinoda – Drawings, Galerie 412, Tokyo
1988 Toko Shinoda – Lithographs, Yoseido Reflection Gallery, Tokyo
1989 Seibu Museum at Art Forum, Tokyo
1990 Retrospective Exhibition of Prints and Paintings, The Tolman Collection, Tokyo
Art Forum, Singapore
Galerie du Monde, Hong Kong
Robyn Buntin of Honolulu, Hawaii
1992 Galerie Humanite, Nagoya 2, Nagoya
Toko Shinoda Retrospective, Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu
1996 The Visual POetry of Toko Shinoda, Singapore Art Museum
1997 Kamakura Gallery, Tokyo
1998 Annely Juda Fine Art, London
2001 Sogetsu Kaikan, Tokyo
Beyond Boundaries, Ebisu Garden Place, Tokyo
Art Salon Kogen, Nagoya
2003 Variations of Vermillion, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
2009 Lan Club, Beijing
2012 Guided by the Brushes, The Tolman Collection, New York
2013 Shinoda Toko 100 Years, Museum of Modern Art, Gifu
Trailblazer, Japan Society, New York
Toko Shinoda – A Lifetime of Accomplishment, Musee Tomo, Tokyo
2014 A Lifetime of Accomplishment, Club 21 Gallery, Singapore
2015 The Tolman Collection’s 103 Views of Toko Shinoda, Conrad Tokyo
2016 Memorial Exhibition at KITTE, Nagoya. A commemorative set of stamps was published by KITTE
2022 Toko Shinoda: a retrospective, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery
1979 27th Japan Essayists’ Club Prize for Sumi iro (colour of ink)