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SEIZAN Gallery is pleased to present Cutting a Loquat Tree, the solo exhibition of Tokyo-based artist, Asako Tabata. Open from January 6 through February 26, 2022, the show presents oil paintings and papier-mâché sculptures the artist has made since 2013. 

With intensely determined brushwork and a moody palette, Tabata depicts enigmatic human figures in a dreamy, Edvard Munch-like haunted atmosphere. The subjects are often children, women or genderless characters. They wear minimal facial expressions yet appear to be on the edge of being emotionally out of control. The works’ animistic quality as well as the mixture of whimsicality and maliciousness, channel artists such as Izumi Kato and Yoshitomo Nara. 

Despite the otherworldly imagery, Tabata states that her subjects are based on everyday, mundane experiences. One example is a painting titled Preparing for a Cherry Blossom Picnic. The bizarre, harrowing image of a figure holding a large blue cloth under an orange tree is based on the artist's experience of joining other parents at her son’s school for a picnic despite an approaching storm.

Tabata’s creative style is intuitive and spontaneous. She does not plan or outline her images beforehand but paints directly on white canvas with colors and decides what to paint as her hand moves. She often ends up painting a completely different image than she originally had in mind. She begins with a simple question or a feeling that has caught her attention. The works reveal delightful surprises about the imagination of a contemporary woman, mother and wife, living day to day in Japan. Tabata explores dense images on canvas, creating strong narratives of emotional power that draw viewers in.

The exhibition includes a number of works completed during the outbreak of COVID-19. Such works show the direct impact of the pandemic. Tabata repeatedly paints a woman or child isolated in a room in dark red and outlined in bold brush strokes. One such painting is titled The Night Goes On, an ironic response to a politician she saw on TV: she quotes directly from his comment “The night will end eventually.” 

Tabata was born in 1972 in Kanagawa, Japan. After graduating Tama Art University and soon after becoming a mother and a homemaker, she continued to make art. Not active on social media, Tabata has kept her works private besides occasionally showing in limited galleries in Tokyo.  This is her first solo exhibition in the United States. 

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