Delve into the back catalogue of Japanese painter Keiko Kimoto in a new retrospective exhibition of her work at Impulse Gallery. Spanning over 20 years and featuring over 57 paintings, this display also includes new, specially commissioned works.
The exhibition titled Okurerutaiyou: Delayed Sun runs from 29 February to 16 April. It contains pieces that date back to 2004 and will explore themes of “collective unconsciousness, synchronicity, and archetypal phenomena,” as well as references to Wabi-Sabi aesthetic concepts to create a unique narrative.
For viewers new to the work of Keiko Kimoto, the exhibition offers a unique glimpse into her creative practice. An avid painter since childhood, growing up in Toyooka, Keiko pursued fine arts at the Berlin University of Arts before spending the next 25 years in the city. Her art seamlessly weaves ancient Japanese techniques with contemporary European elements, resulting in a unique blend of precision, technical mastery and emotional expression.
At the heart of the exhibition is the Japanese concept of Ma. This symbolises a pause in time or a void in space. In terms of her paintings, Keiko represents this through the essential time and space required for life to breathe, feel and connect. By delving deeper into Ma, these paintings examine abstract spaces such as dreams, where figures appear to dissolve or emerge from non-figurative spaces.
Beyond thematics, Keiko’s art is instantly recognisable and noteworthy, thanks to her use of quick brush strokes and improvisation. Together, these create a paradoxical experience where static images create a sense of movement. This encourages viewers to engage more deeply with her art and contemplate their “imaginative depths.”
Regarding her creative process, Keiko says, “I draw a line without memory and an idea. The colour harmonises visually with my feelings, connecting with my emotions.”
Displayed chronologically, the paintings in this exhibition follow Keiko as she explores figuration via small figures and women, as well as the natural world through symbols such as animals, trees, rain and woods, and dreamlike landscapes inspired by the Japanese countryside.
These pieces also see Keiko experiment with a diverse array of materials, such as Korean ceramics and bright colours, which she applies in a “unique symmetrical aesthetic” by simultaneously painting with both her left and right hands.
As the exhibition unfolds, viewers follow Keiko as she branches out into watercolours, oil, tempera and even coal. Built around a colour palette of blues and greens, her work gradually detaches itself from figuration and gradually leans towards abstraction. This results in her later works, which shift their focus to spontaneity and playfulness.
Ultimately, Keiko’s art is a “delicate expression of pure joy.” Inspired by her childhood experiences of observing nature, her paintings avoid conveying judgment or making a statement. Instead, they are a celebration of the process of creating art. Indeed, once a painting is finished and has served its purpose, Keiko moves straight on to her next creative project.
“The exhibition offers a rare glimpse into Keiko Kimoto’s artistic evolution over the past two decades, inviting viewers to explore the delicate intersection between dreams and reality,” says Claudia Schumacher, Director of Impulse Gallery.
“Her ability to harmonise precision and spontaneity creates a captivating narrative that resonates with the universal language of art.”