Japan Society 2014 Artist Residency Presents Ink Painter Cyoko Tamai Today

Japan Society 2014 Artist Residency Presents Ink Painter Cyoko Tamai Today

Japan Society Gallery's new Summer Artist Residency Program returns for its second annual installment this July, introducing up-and-coming ink painter Cyoko Tamai (b. 1987). Working with the world's thinnest handmade paper, this 27-year-old artist reaches beyond the conventional notion of ink on paper painting. As her first visit to New York City, visitors to the Open Studio today, July 19 will be among the first in the U.S. to see her work outside Japan.

"The reviving of Japan Society's legendary Artist Residency last year was a pilot program for the Gallery, and it was an enormous success benefitting both the invited artists and the public," says Miwako Tezuka, Director of Japan Society Gallery. "I am extremely pleased to continue this initiative this year by bringing Cyoko Tamai, who has shown great international potential through her conceptual strength, skill and intelligence."

Ms. Tamai shares her eagerness to immerse herself in the summer life of America's cultural capital: "In New York, I would like to get inspired and stimulated using every sense, especially sight and hearing, and create a piece, or pieces, that can greatly broaden my own horizons."

In her work, Tamai pursues what she calls "the finest lines that are the smallest unit of painting" by using a steel dip pen rather than a paintbrush or ink brush conventionally used in Japanese painting. She considers her painting process "staining" of the thin fibers that comprise a sheet of paper. With the thin nib of her pen, Tamai pulls out fiber after fiber from the sheet of paper, literally deconstructing the painting surface to create an approximately two-inch-high, fuzzed relief that appears to defy gravity.

Both sensitive and aggressive, this unique method can only be applied to strong paper. After many trials and errors, Tamai discovered a type of paper most appropriate for her practice; the strongest, and arguably the thinnest, handmade paper in the world crafted by Japan's Living National Treasure Sazio Hamada. Interestingly, this search for the ideal material for her art brought Tamai back to her hometown, K?chi Prefecture, which is traditionally known for production of high quality handmade paper and where Mr. Hamada and his successors have their paper mill.

The public will have an opportunity to mix and mingle with this spirited artist and view her work-in-progress at a free open studio tonight, July 19 from Noon to 5:00 pm. Requests for studio visits during normal operating hours can be made by appointment by contacting gallery@japansociety.org or calling 212-715-1283.

Born in 1987 in Kchi Prefecture in western Japan, Cyoko Tamai first enrolled in music study as she moved to Tokyo to attend prestigious Tokyo University of the Arts. Soon after, her interest shifted to visual art as the means to give concreteness to the ephemeral beauty of sound. She received an MFA in Japanese painting this spring, with already a few offers of group and solo exhibitions in Japan, and begins her artistic career internationally, starting at Japan Society Gallery in New York this summer.

Tamai's work has been included in the 2009 Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale in Niigata Prefecture even before she received BFA. Since then her work has been presented in various solo and group exhibitions in Japan, including: "Cyoko TAMAI Exhibition," Ginza Surugadai Gallery, Tokyo (2014); "What is Drawing-a show of competition winners," Galerie Simon, Tokyo (2012); "Young Artists," Daimaru Kochi, Tokyo (2013); "Next Art," Matsuya Ginza, Tokyo (2013); "ShinPA!!!!!!!," Obuse Museum of Art, Nagano Prefecture and Sato Museum of Art, Tokyo (2013). Tamai is a recipient of a grant from the Sato International Cultural Foundation in Tokyo (2013) and the Ataka Awards from Tokyo University of the Arts (2013).

Japan Society Gallery's Summer Artist Residency Program is an annual series inviting emerging artists from Japan. In 2013 a Fukushima-based artist collective three was invited and the program marked the first time in decades that Japan Society Gallery had officially supported Japan-based artists in long-term projects. During the 1950s to the 1960s, many Japanese artists came to the Society as "fellow artists" and spent extremely fertile period in New York that significantly influenced their career development. Renowned printmaker Shik? Munakata (1903-1975) was one of the first residence artists in 1959, during which he completed an amazing body of works that represent the essence of his expressionistic woodblock prints. In the 1960s, celebrated artist Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) was a fellow artist, creating her famous infinity-net paintings characteristic of that period in her career. Japan Society Gallery continues to build upon this legacy and supports contemporary Japanese artists through the Summer Artist Residency Program. Since its exposure to the New York art scene, the 2013 Resident Artist group three has already accomplished two solo gallery exhibitions of their works in Miami in 2013 and 2014.

Japan Society Gallery is among the premier institutions in the U.S. for the exhibition of Japanese art. Extending in scope from prehistory to the present, the Gallery's exhibitions since 1971 have covered topics as diverse as classical Buddhist sculpture and calligraphy, contemporary photography and ceramics, samurai swords, export porcelain, and masterpieces of painting from the thirteenth to the twentieth century. Each exhibition, with its related catalogue and public programs, is a unique cultural event that illuminates familiar and unfamiliar fields of art.

Founded in 1907, Japan Society is a multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture as well as open and critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan.

Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second Avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and M subway at Lexington Avenue). The public may call 212-832-1155 or visit www.japansociety.org for more information.

IMAGE CREDIT: Cyoko Tamai (b. 1987), Work in progress (detail), 2014. Ink on Japanese paper; 21 x 31 in. Courtesy of the artist.