Toko Shinoda

篠田 桃紅 b. 1913

At 100 years of age Shinoda continues to break new ground in her work. She playfully suggests that yesterday’s work was clumsy, today’s passable and tomorrow’s possibly acceptable. Toko Shinoda eschews identification with any particular school or movement of art, Eastern or Western. She has remained adamantly independent, breaking with tradition, ignoring rules and expectations as they suit her individual creative needs. She has created an autonomous place in art history, testament to her description in Time magazine of 1983 as a trailblazer ‘analogous to Picasso’.

Trained in traditional calligraphy from early childhood, Shinoda rebelled against its strictures in her early teens. After her first solo show in Tokyo in 1936 she began to experiment with abstract painting and was included in a ground-breaking show of modern abstract calligraphy at the Museum of Modern Art New York in 1954. A stay in New York from 1956-1958 during the emergence of American Abstract Expressionism consolidated her journey into abstraction.

Master of brush and ink and its expression on paper, Shinoda explores the Japanese aesthetic of negative space and yin and yang counterpoint to its fullest manifestation as abstraction. Her traditional training informs the mastery and perfect balance of her work. Original waka poetry and calligraphic form are sometimes merged with abstraction reflecting the eternal co-existence of tradition and modernity in her creative psyche.

Shinoda’s work is held in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, the National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo, the British Museum, Singapore Art Museum and many other leading international institutions and significant private collections. Her exhibition records see her in the company of Japanese legends Hakuin and Munakata and Western luminaries de Kooning, Miro and Picasso.

Toko Shinoda
Lesley Kehoe