solo exhibition “A child and an owl and a gray cat sparkling on Sunday”

きいろい子 gold child 2008 oil, acrylic on canvas 72.8 × 60.5 cm ©Tomoko Nagai

Tomoko Nagai depicts the magnificent narrative world with abundant motifs that could be said as the eternal girlishness. All the animals, bears, cats, sheeps, horses and young girls along with strange imaginary animals, and colorful trees and mushrooms scatter around like a toy box turned upside down, onto a theatrical stage with classical ballet theater-like backdrop. The artist’s imagination expands forever and ever, from the decorative interior that resembles one that the artist herself used to daydream in her adolescence playing with dolls, to dark forest that we often see in fairy tales, to outer space. Nagai seems to ardently create the one and only “doll’s house” for her, since she not only paints on flat surfaces but also challenges herself to making installation works.
She is patiently waiting for us spectators to open the door and enter her dramatically and freely directed cosmos, placing props like a fake fur, shining chandelier, stuffed animals, beautiful mirror, playing cards and world map.


In this first solo show by the artist at Tomio Koyama Gallery, we will be showing 10 large scale paintings and many small paintings and drawings. There will also be various doll houses on display that seems to have been popped out of the artistic world of hers, and drawings in decorative photo frames that are usually used to display family portraits, and installation of miniature dolls. Please come see them on this occasion.


Artist Profile

Tomoko Nagai

In Tomoko Nagai’s works, various motifs including animals such as bears, cats, and horses; young girls and imaginary figures; and trees and mushrooms are scattered against backgrounds of forest or rooms which look precisely as if they were theater sets. In all of her works there is a characteristic sense of fulfilment, as if expressing a condensed form of our world. Nagai does not draw before painting, and she uses different media depending on the subject: oil, acrylic, watercolor, color pencil, and pastel, as well as sculptures and installations. This results in various matiere and levels of intensity that seem to have become elements and rhythms, together constituting one music. Nagai’s works do not carry any specific narratives. By feeling this music, we somehow enter unawares into her world of stories.

Tomoko Nagai was born in Aichi Prefecture in 1982. She graduated from Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music in 2006, majoring in Oil Painting. She currently lives and works in Tokyo. She has held five
solo exhibitions with Tomio Koyama Gallery, and a solo exhibition at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery. She has also participated in “VOCA 2010” at The Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo, as well as international exhibitions such as “Future Pass – From Asia to the World” Collateral Event of the 54th International Art Exhibition la Biennale di Venezia (Palazzo Mangilli-Valmarana, Venice, 2011), and other group exhibitions in Seoul, Grenoble, and Berlin. She also worked with a project in which she painted the walls of the swimming pool in a nursery school called Toyama nursery school (designed by Takahashi Ippei Office) located in Shichigahama town, Miyagi, one of the stricken areas caused by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The nursery building completed in 2013 was fully funded and supported by Singapore Red Cross. Her works have been included in public collections including The Takahashi Collection (Japan), The Olbricht Collection (Germany), The Zabludowicz Collection (UK) and The JAPIGOZZI Collection (US/ Switzerland).