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By: Joseph Licata

I was first introduced to Japanese artist Tomooko Sugimoto’s work back in 2012 and instantly fell in love after seeing a small collection, “Through the looking Glass, and What I Found There” at The Standard Hotel in New York. A series of circular embroidered and acrylic painted canvas – many featuring the whimsical nature of youth – with children tumbling, jumping and playing.

thought the looking glass and what i found there



It was back in March 2011 that Sugimoto put her stake in the ground as an artist. Launching a show in Williamsburg the day after Japan was hit by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. Urged to push on that day, her work ended up breathing life and a happy energy into a room filled with many of those who were affected by the tragedy that was unfolding in Japan.


Sugimoto spent her childhood immersed in works by American modernists, European impressionists, and traditional Japanese scroll painters thanks to her mother’s collection of artist catalogues (who is also an artist and art teacher). After attending Musashino Art University in Tokyo, she moved to New York City and earned another BFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts. For the past decade, before going out on her own, Tomo has worked as the Painting Director and core figure of Takashi Murakami’s studio, traveling around the world to produce shows and retrospectives – just in case you needed a POP culture connection to love her art.

Fast-forward to December 2013, Sugimoto’s first solo show in Manhattan, work that featured what Sugimoto describes as “Eastern narrative and western surface treatment influences”. With inspirations drawn from, “traditional Japanese art and also from my past experiences of youth, as well as present expereiences”, she says about her work. “That show was in reference to timelessness and the cycles that flow in never ending patterns”, she continues.

tomoko sugimoto 5


You can be sure to find her continued dedication to inspiring wonderment and intimacy, while introducing new abstracts, that evoke thoughts of global perspective as she continues to step out on her own. It’s these emotions that originally attracted me to Sugimoto’s work and I hope it’s those same emotions that will attract you.


tomoko sugimoto 2

tomoko sugimoto 4

tomoko sugimoto 3

tomoko sugimoto 1



Photos courtesy of Tomo & Chris Mosier