Yoko Kumé was born in Tokyo in 1961. She studied art in Japan and at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and now lives and works in the Paris region. She won the Paul Louis Weiller Portrait Prize in 1995 and her work is regularly exhibited in Japan, France and Europe.
The book In Praise of Shadows by Japanese author Tanizaki was a revelation for Yoko Kumé, with its concept of animating people and objects through a light filter that sculpts shadows. She gradually turned her painterly gaze to the everyday world, to the humdrum objects in her studio, in an effort to surpass their mundanity and bring them to life. She depicts the world around her with great sensitivity, turning her expert hand in the long-practised art of calligraphy to create a magical dialogue between the visual cultures of the East and the West.
Her technique is too meticulous and delicate to work in large-scale formats. When she paints a flower, Yoko gives it new life, making it "appear" through her slow process of fluid, transparent, almost weightless material being worked, as if the act of painting itself, through its sensuality and its physical, tangible quality, allows her to access the very existence of this flower.
Her paintings are set in a singular space – atmospheric, floating and vibrant. They are figurative, but only after a long period of abstraction and exploration of irreality, in order to give shape to the unshaped, to original chaos. Her titles speak for themselves: Figure intemporelle (Timeless Figure), la beauté suspendue (Suspended Beauty), nuage floral (Floral Cloud) etc. Her canvases do not "represent" very much; this is not what we notice first. Rather, they evoke an atmosphere, a tendency… The figures are secondary, they’re the backdrop, but on Yoko's stage, it’s her extreme sensitivity that’s under the spotlight.
150x100 cm diptyque, tempera on canvas © Yoko Kumé
116x81cm tempera on canvas © Yoko Kumé
tempera on canvas, 130x97cm © Yoko Kumé
150x100 cm triptyque, tempera on canvas © Yoko Kumé
116x81 cm tempera on canvas © Yoko Kumé
80x80cm Dyptique tempera & oil on canvas © Yoko Kumé
© Yoko Kumé
41x33cm, tempera on canvas © Yoko Kumé
65x54cm, tempera on canvas © Yoko Kumé
41x33cm tempera on canvas © Yoko Kumé
Her preferred mediums are tempera, distemper, oil, and watercolour, along with monotype.
In the Zen-like manner that characterises her personal approach, Yoko Kumé draws us into her contemplative universe, leading us to meditate on and question our lives which are, at times, too Western.
Since 2012 Session House, Gallery Garden, Kagurazaka, Tokyo
Since 2013 Gallery Iroha-Do, Kinasa, Nagano, Japan
2013 9th International Visual Arts Workshop & Exhibition, Bangkok
1991 Fujii Modern Gallery, Tokyo
1995 Académie des Beaux Arts Portrait Prize, Paris