ARTisSpectrum | Volume 29 | artisspectrum.com
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Kaneko Johkoh
W
hen asked about the most important event in her life as an artist,
Kaneko Johkoh
says that it was her discovery of
Bokusho, a form of Japanese ink painting that infuses the elegance of traditional calligraphy with a free-form, abstract
spirit. Having previously worked in oil paints, Johkoh was so impressed by this form of expression that she immediately
immersed herself in it, turning out 200 works in a flurry of activity — an effort that left her “unconscious after completing
them.”
For the artist, speed is an essential feature of Bokusho. “I must make up my mind,” she says, “and then draw before my
feeling and motivation expires.” The speed and energy in Johkoh’s work are readily apparent, but there is nothing careless
about her images. She has a refined sense of composition that harnesses her energies and gives them a compelling force.
Brushstrokes swirl across her works with a freedom that communicates a strong artistic personality. However, the arcs which
those brushstrokes follow possess a symmetry and balance that give her paintings a contemplative feeling. “Calmness, often
represented by Zen, is also a major part of my personality,” she notes.
Johkoh animates the forms of calligraphy through the creative, unorthodox use of her materials. Some of her images are
in Sumi (carbon ink) on plain Japanese rice paper, but for others she will pre-paint the paper with colorful patterns before
applying the ink, or place small objects such as origami figures on the images to add an “additional dimension to otherwise
two-dimensional paintings.” The resulting works have a depth and texture that bring calligraphy and ink painting into a new,
open-ended world. “My art is not the result of pursuing a pre-determined theme,” she explains. “I want people interpreting
my paintings in any way they want to.”
Kaneko in her Studio
Observer Sumi Ink on Paper 25” x 37”
Nothing And Heart II Sumi Ink on Paper 26” x 34.5”
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