Tomoko Nagao (b. 1976, Nagoya) is a Japanese contemporary artist based in Milan, and one of the leading international figures of the Micropop art movement. From the beginning of her studies, Nagao assimilated key features of the postmodern Japanese art movement, such as Yoshitomo Nara’s stylized shapes and Takashi Murakami's Superflat style; she then attended the Chelsea College of Art in London, where her personal artistic approach was solidified. Nagao has won international acclaim, with her works being exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum (London) as well as multiple solo and group shows across Italy and Japan.
The imagery of Nagao’s works usually reinterprets Renaissance masterpieces, with an overlay of the Japanese aesthetic concept of ‘kawaii’. Nagao has revisited artworks by Caravaggio, Vermeer, Velázquez, Botticelli, and Hokusai, among others, sometimes introducing a modern twist and the concept of consumerism by making reference to global luxury brands and corporations; this is emphasized by her use of a highly-saturated color palette (the high chroma property of Nagao’s work), which reminds us of the energetic brightness in symbols of capitalism, such as advertisements. The artist’s adaptation of Old Masters is intended as an ironic reference to the economic mechanisms of power in the production of images, where Renaissance patrons like Medici have now been replaced by creative directors of major brands.
Following the principles and visual language of Superflat style, Tomoko Nagao's production is characterized by flat and emphatic images with defined outlines, existing in an extreme two-dimensional plane. This is unintentionally reminiscent of the way in which Japanese art of the Edo period was perceived in Europe during the second half of the nineteenth century, around the same time as Botticelli was rediscovered. Despite the formal characteristics of Nagao’s technique, the multiple thematic meanings and layers in her work introduce the idea of cultural and historical multi-dimensionality. By consuming images of cultural icons from centuries past, in coexistence with symbols of consumerism and modern aesthetics, the viewer is transported to an imagined realm that exists outside of our linear perception of time. By combining the familiar and the unknown in terms of culturally-rooted styles, Nagao's works place the viewer at a crossroads between the East and the West, showing how globalization has placed postmodern creativity in a fluid and diverse dimension, where geographical borders are blurred.
Highlighted Solo Exhibitions:
2020 “Women in Pop” 210 Gallery, Galleria VIK Milano, Milano, Italy.
2019 “Tomoko Nagao” Triennale di Milano, Milano, Italy.
2019 “SHISEIDO ARTLAB” collaboration and workshop with SHISEIDO, Milano, Italy.
2018 "Iridescent Obsessions Tomoko Nagao" Deodato Arte, Milano, Italy.
2018 "Tomoko Nagao" Galleria Alberto Sordi, Roma, Italy.
2012 "Superflat experience di Tomoko Nagao" Galleria Famiglia Margini, Milano, Italy.
2012 "Micropop - Kawaizazione di Tomoko" MO.OM, Olgiate Olona, Italy.
2007 "PoP PuPPet" Galleria Famiglia Margini, Milano, Italy.
1999 "Castle in the sky" YAMATE 234 Gallery, in Yokohama, Japan.
1998 YURAKU BASHI Gallery, Tokyo, Japan.
Highlighted Group Exhibitions:
2020 "Icons of Art" Workshop for Uniqlo's 1st Anniversary, Uniqlo Milano, Italy; "Living women" Casa Lago, Milano, Italy.
2019 "Girls Girls - International Exhibition of Art & Illustration", Organized by Cultural Affairs Department of New Taipei City Government, Implemented by Fun Design, at Taipei City Arts Center, Taipei China.
2018 "Japan Pop in Franciacorta" Franciacorta Village, Rovato, Italy.
2017 "Kirakira" Contemporary Concept, Galleria Cavour, Bologna, Italy.
2016 "Botticelli Reimagined" in Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK; "The Last Supper" Villa Burba, Rho Italy.
2015 "Botticelli Renaissance" in Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, Germany; "Premio Pio Alferano 2015", curated by Camillo Langone and Vittorio Sgarbi, Castello di Castellabate, Castellabate, Italy; "Super Pop Zoo" Ex complesso conventuale San Francesco, Alessandria, Italy. "Aperipop", Milano, Italy. "Pop icon" Museo Diocesano, Milano, Italy. "Nippop 2015" Bolonia, Italy. "M-WAM - Making our future" Expo 2015 Milano, Fondazione Triulza, Milano, Italia. "M-WAM - Milano World Arts Map" Fabbrica del Vapore, Milano, Italia."Asta Adisco" Sotheby's, Milano, Italy.