Early works:
The process of leaving the conventions of calligraphic forms to create free shapes

Toko Shinoda began her career as a calligrapher. Sensing her own view of the universe in calligraphic forms, she set about acquiring the ability to construct space, time, and movement. Concentrating on her calligraphy conversely led her to move away from the confinement of calligraphic forms, setting off on an adventure without the constraint of tradition.

Sumi, 1955
Nabeya Bi-tech Kaisha
Etude, 1954
Nabeya Bi-tech Kaisha

Establishing an approach to abstract expression:
Powerful and robust visual art

After spending time in the US from 1956 to 1958, Shinoda arrived at a purity of abstract expression in taut compositions of thick lines and planes. This established the powerful and robust visual art that characterises her distinctive style.

Celestial, 1960s
Nabeya Bi-tech Kaisha
Distant, c.1964
The Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu

Adding depth:
Developing profound expression through works in series

Shinoda described abstract expression as appearing unconstrained, but actually having strong internal constraints. She realised that abstraction had the risk of lapsing into a simply disordered and empty format. Shinoda creates works in series to thoroughly explore a single formal motif, an approach that probably derives from this realisation and demonstrates her commitment to addressing it. Examples of representative series and major works from the 1970s onwards are presented here.

Fête (Après),
Fête (Après),, 1986
The Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu
Solitary Journal,
Solitary Journal,, 1988
Gifu Collection of Modern Arts Foundation

Dialogue with architectural space:
Bringing genres together and working on architectural projects

The 1950s and 1960s were a time when artists were experimenting with integrating different genres to transform and rebuild the environment and the conditions under which we live. Shinoda actively collaborated with architects to produce mural calligraphy, murals, paintings for sliding panels, reliefs, and drop curtains for theatres.

Cherishing Sumi 1
Cherishing Sumi 1, 1991
The Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu
Cherishing Sumi 2
Cherishing Sumi 2, 1991
The Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu
Cherishing Sumi 3
Cherishing Sumi 3, 1991
The Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu
Cherishing Sumi 4
Cherishing Sumi 4, 1991
The Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu

Works of the highest order in later years:
Enriching the experience of artistic sensitivity

Shinoda sharpened by her senses and perception by observing familiar natural objects and the whole panoply of nature that she encountered in everyday life. These subjects inspired her work, ensuring that her later years remained productive and fulfilling. Shinoda often talked of works as coming from her heart. By “heart”, she seems to be not referring just to simple feelings, but to the synthesis of the sensations that have accumulated inside her from all the phenomena she has experienced, the overall result of the intermingled perceptions of her body and her senses, and the richness that they bring when all brought together. Shinoda’s works are a condensed expression of all the various aspects of the human experience of artistic sensitivity.

Mixed Emotions,
Mixed Emotions,, 2016
The Tolman Collection