A Poetic Sentiment

Interview by Christina Chua
Images courtesy of Ota Fine Arts
Translation by Sayuri Kida

Already wiped clean of the rough work of the studio, Tomoko Kashiki’s paintings hang pristine in a newly-minted gallery. The environment is quietly inviting; white lights muted to a positive glow and the viewer steps in.

Kashiki suspends figures in immersive spaces, and entering the picture frames she crafts is like being ushered into a dream, ripe with evocative landscapes and secret interiors. Indeed, her world can only be most adequately described with the vocabulary of the surreal and the sensual. And intimacy finds new meaning in her very handling of paint: upon closer inspection, each work is created through an elaborate method of painting, sanding and finely carving the surface of the panel, then repainting layer over layer.

On the occasion of her eponymously titled solo exhibition at Ota Fine Arts, Gillman Barracks, Kashiki divulges her unique process—both in thought and in paint.

In your artist statement, you write that your painting begins with your ‘poetic sentiment and emotion’.

Yes, I think these are my personal impressions of beauty.

How do these images occur to you, before you lay them on the canvas or screen?

These images often occur to me with movements, spaces, colours or feelings. However, they may be just an accumulation of words. Perhaps because of this I assume that they are like moving images, when they may actually be closer to dreams.

I can imagine that painting for you is a very rigorous, meticulous process. What are your methods from that moment of inception onwards?

First of all, I hold the images and words like a dream which begins with such ‘poetic sentiment and emotion’, and make some simple sketches. Then I choose the most interesting ones for painting. At first I draw a rough sketch on the canvas, one that is often close to the final version. However, the images at the bottom-most layer are so weakly outlined that they won’t remain after I start painting. Therefore, I struggle to save this first rough sketch, taking photos of it in its earliest stage, printing them out and painting rough lines with thicker layers over them to make them come to the surface.

Secondly, I start painting the background and the figure concretely. The crucial moment in my work is deciding the shape and place of motifs, and the borders between object and object—colour and colour.

Read more in The U Press N˚5 (Singapore edition).