Sorry! I could not resist a title that connected Reina Eto‘s love of dogs and her recent rise as a new star on the Tokyo art scene. She would deny this, but both the director of the Face to Face gallery and I agree that she has a bright future. We both met her at the 2014 Tokyo Art Fair and were struck by her unique style in a genre filled with many paintings that look similar to each other. She might be using a traditional method of painting called nihonga, but her work is fresh and contemporary.
For what it is worth, I purposefully took photos that were not exactly straight and cropped them slightly. I did not want to infringe upon her copyright. Anybody who is trying to determine what is a copy will certainly notice that her photos of her artwork will not be trimmed like the ones I am using. I also did not record the titles because I want people to investigate more by themselves. I also did not want to presume how she wanted to present her Japanese titles in the English alphabet or even how she wants them translated. I have simply added phrases to describe what each painting reminds me of.
This is one of my personal favourites. I love the composition and how the friendly nature of the dog is expressed despite our X-ray vision of the dog’s organs.
I want to call this one, “Truffle Dog”, because the dog’s face reminds me of a pig! This one and all of the paintings are quite small. This one is about 12 inches tall if I recall correctly.
This is a slightly closer look at the one of the two dogs racing. You can get a sense of its size in contrast with her face. Marsha Whiddon from Winnipeg once used dogs to represent the darker, animal nature of humans; Reina Eto paints dogs because she loves them and is familiar with their motion.She shows their inner organs to illustrate their inner mechanics and is not interested in trendy zombies. She tried painting horses, but their beauty is still too unfamiliar to her. Maybe in the future?
Reina Eto has also started painting humans in motion. Their bodies are healthy and powerful; they do not like zombies although we can see inside them. No body parts are falling off. They are in the pink of good health!
This one reminds me of shaman paintings down by artists from the First Nations in Canada, such as those of Inuit or Ojibway descent. One of the interesting things about this painting is that the black-and-white fur is made from iron filings. Eto graduated from art school but did not formally study nihonga painting. Perhaps because of that she is freer to break the rules. I have seen this happen before when painters enter a printmaking studio. Because it is not their major field of study, they are less concerned with process and more concerned with the final image. This might drive some technicians crazy, but the results are beautiful! This one has been growing on me.
Reina Eto is currently showing at the Face to Face gallery with two other young nihonga painters. Their paintings are also small but a bit more traditional than Eto’s work.
Doesn’t this one by Kyoko Enokidani remind you of Monet’s water lilies? This one is the most abstract. Her other paintings combine urban landscapes at night in similar blue shades.
Kansui Abe’s paintings seem traditional at first glance and remind you of landscapes that you might see in collections in Kyoto, but then you realize that fish are swimming between those mountains. That is a nice surprise!
Thank you to Kiyoshi Yamamoto and Reina Eto for an enjoyable Saturday afternoon filled with interesting and informative conversation. For those who want to take a look, I am afraid that Sunday, June 1, 2014 is your last chance to see this group show at the Face to Face gallery in Kichijoji, Tokyo. Don’t worry! Reina Eto plans to have a solo show here in the near future. If you plan to start a Japanese art collection, her prices are a bargain!