Maio Motoko

Maio Motoko (b. 1948)


Contemporary screen artist, Maio Motoko has completely revolutionized the form of the traditional Japanese folding screen creating a 13 fold screen of graduating panels: “Don’t you think that the screen is the material embodiment of Japanese culture? While a flat surface is being created, it is simultaneously three dimensional. It freely changes shape and transforms space. Light and shadow can be created in the twinkling of an eye. It also communicates the sensitivities of beauty and in a physical form expresses the fleeting, transient nature of life. It is a both a painting and an object – a bewitchingly ambivalent form. You don’t completely partition a room, but rather capture the fleeting mood of a moment and enjoy the imperceptible sound of it vanishing.

Ambivalence – there is a tendency to think of this as a negative trait of the Japanese, when in fact, isn’t it actually something to celebrate?”

Maio Motoko trained as a mounter of traditional scrolls and then, motivated by a search for truly individual expression, moved on to the mastery of Japanese screen making, making the entire framework of the screens herself. She has remained true to the traditional function of the folding screen in its ability to manipulate physical space. She has moved beyond this in her attempt to relate the traditional form to modern times and interiors, with the re-creation of the double hinge and the unique differential sizes of the individual folds of the screens. This enables a flexibility of form and a manipulation of physical space that surpasses the original intention of the traditional form.

Mastery of technique and materials is obvious in her work. She brings to the canvas of the folding screen mundane materials  – aluminium foil, crushed stone, sand, dirt, iron rust, and so on – that provide a freedom of colour and a textural palette unimaginable in traditional forms.

Her artistic concepts relate to the subtle contradictions and harmonies of Yin and Yang and how they appear in human experience. She is unafraid of the exploration and demonstration of the negative, the dark, the aggressive, the decay and transience of life alongside its lighter and happier counterpoints. Her work has an immediate visual appeal with an immediately concurrent emotional impact that is born from the synthesis of human experience.

As sculptural objects her works stand in a variety of formations, none of which hint to its other manifestations. Her unique thirteen fold graduated screen folds down to a mysterious trapezoid which stands alone as a sculptural object, totally concealing its potential as a massive canvas. As functional art, Maio’s works give unprecedented flexibility to the transformation of space and to the playful creative instincts of the owner of the work.

Maio Motoko has taken the traditional form of the Japanese folding screen and given it new life in a contemporary and international context. She has moved beyond boundaries of time, space, form and culture. She will undoubtedly be recognized as one of the great artists of the 21st century.

1948    born Tokyo
1970    graduated Rikkyo ( St Paul’s ) University
1980    commenced study of scroll mounting with Kashu Yabuta
1986    commenced study of screen making with Kobayashi Kenji
1992    Solo exhibition Nihonbashi Tokyu
1995    Two man show with Kobayashi Kenji Matsuya Ginza, also 1997
1999    Group exhibition Nagai Gallery Tokyo
2000   Two man show with Wada Makoto “Mother Goose” Nagai   Gallery,Tokyo
Three man show Geneva with Koie Ryoji and Kado Isaburo
2003    Mugen  Lesley Kehoe Galleries, Melbourne
2004   Three man show with Hakko Ishitobi and Kobayashi Koji    Geneva
International Asian Art Fair, New York,
International Art and Design Fair, New York
2005    International Asian Art Fair, New York,
International Art & Design Fair, New York
2006    Japanese Cool Zero 6 Lesley Kehoe Galleries Melbourne Australia
2007    SOFA New York
2008   Invited artist Japan Festival Kennedy Center, Washington, DC.
Invited Lecturer Smithsonian Institute Freer Gallery Washington DC
Art and Antiques Dubai
Japanese Cool Zero 8 Lesley Kehoe Galleries, Melbourne and Sydney
2009    Kan to Hikari  Kiyomizu Temple Kyoto
2010   Modern Twist  The Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas, Texas, USA
Kan to Hikari, Nijo Castle, Kyoto
2011    Fleeting Moments  Solo Exhibition Lesley Kehoe Galleries Melbourne Australia
Kan to Hikari Sennyuji Temple, Kyoto

Chan-Palay Collection, New York
Peggy and Richard Danziger Collection, New York
Honda Soichiro Collection, Honda, Tokyo
Fuji Xerox, Karuizawa, Japan
German Embassy, Tokyo
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia,
Shiozuki Yaeko, Eldest daughter of 14th Iemoto Tantansai, Urasenke School
Private Collections, Japan, USA, Australia, Europe

Maio Motoko
Lesley Kehoe