"Mermaid" Ink on paper
Tomoko Nakazato narrates the contemporary tales of human experiences through her animated ceramic sculptures and drawings. Although Tomoko’s love for all things cute, animation, and West coast funk ceramics is evident in her sculptures, her artwork seems unfit to be described in such simple terms. “Hello Kitty on acid“, “Goth Lolita with vengeance“, “Punk Bling Bling with consciousness”, “Surrealism with a rebel statement” may be more fitting. Strange and cryptic her visual language may seem to the audiences, however, Tomoko’s inspiration roots in the mundane reality of her daily life. She says, “ I feel as if I exist in a world that seems to be in a constant state of flux. I perceive my surroundings as if it is a part of an ever-morphing entity, which is full of blinking visual “paw!”, the drips of fantastic plastic colors, and the glossy gobs of melting patterns and symbols. Such visual ‘blings’ are all advocating for temporary, disposable, and instant gratifications. “
As an introverted child who preferred being friends with the bands of staffed animals, Tomoko was immersed in the ultra materialistic urban life of Tokyo, Japan in 1980s. Then, in 1996, her life became a liberal cross-cultural immigrant, the hybrid of Japan- America in San Francisco, California. She has exhibited her artwork nation wide, and became an artist in resident in Hawaii and California. She feels art is a survival tool, a way to understand herself, and a way to connect with others and her external world trough creativity. At anytime, however, her life was profoundly defined by the experiences of an individual lost in a post modern world of globalization. There, popular culture, materialism and consumerism are the leading moral values destroying the life and natural environment of this planet to the points of no return.
There is a feeling of childlike playfulness, oddity, and enigma in her sculpture that her audience find familiar, but Tomoko delivers it with a cheek pinching sort of jaded mischievousness. The fragility of cute pretense gets mocked by crudeness or grossness which her artwork also presents in itself. This implosive self contradictions may be the delightful creative predicament of the materialistic world the artist exists, indulges, and finds herself trapped in.
Tomoko is, has been, and remains hermits in her clay “dungeon” in foggy San Francisco, enjoys a strong cup of English tea with milk, and also enjoy taking a daily trip to her world of imagination which is as fragile and as fantastical as Fantasia.