abstract artist RYOKO GOTO

Artist Statement --> 日本語

Ryoko makes art whenever she feels very pleased, satisfied, and hopeful encountering a subject or an object, e.g., time, a friend's pregnancy, New York City’s skyline, or conversely reacting intensely to a negative subject or object, .e.g., sadness, a difficult relationship.   But she believes any negative subject or object has a positive aspect as well. When she chooses a negative subject or object, she shows a positive aspect of the object or subject in her art as well. The subjects or objects are for her both visible and invisible. Her thought might be from Japanese culture “All things have a spirit, and we should respect everything even stone or wood”. When she experiences something intensely, they become ‘visible’ in her mind and she then chases the vision in her art. The theme is always from her personal experience, but the theme is going to be mutated to a wide or universal sense and she makes art with her personal theme while also feeling the wide or universal sense as well. Whether it is an oil painting, a drawing, or a video work, she always tries to express the ‘sense’ or ‘presence)’ she feels.


“Why am I very into abstract expressionism?”


Ryoko has been examining the answer to this question in depth recently and realizes it is from several key influences in her life. She loves the 50’s New York School art movement, (the radical art scene that emerged in New York after the Second World War). When Ryoko saw Jackson Pollock’s art in person for the first time when she was 18 years old it shocked her and she started making abstract art soon after. This is why she resides in NYC and attributes the 50’s art movement, as well as studying the New York School as key influences in her love of abstract expressionism. 


Recently she realized her love of abstract expressionism may also be because of the affect Zen has had on her. In 2020, she learned about the Zen monk/gardener, Muso Soseki (1275 - 1351) through an online Japanese Art History class at an art college in Kyoto, Japan. She was surprised that the Zen Gardens have a style she loves. For instance, a stone in a garden implies a moment that a carp is going to be a dragon but that is just a stone for people who don’t know the meaning. It reminds her of her favorite Constantin Brancusi’s iconic ‘fish’ sculpture. The garden's style also reminds her of Isamu Noguchi whom she loves as well.  The Zen philosophy made an impression on her without her conscious awareness and it is possible it is reflected in and why she is attracted to abstract expressionism.   


Ryoko’s family did not have any religious affiliation like most Japanese until her father decided on a temple to have a family grave in 2020 by chance. At that point, she did not know the temple was a Zen temple. She knew it when her father passed away in September 2023. The temple was one of her father’s clients as an accountant and she had been there once a year to assist her father’s work when she was in Japan. She guesses the reason why her father decided to have it there was that it made her father comfortable and her as well. This means she will be with Zen philosophy because the monk family she feels comfortable with has Zen philosophy from about 400 years ago. So she feels it is her destiny to learn Zen, to find out why she is so attracted to abstract expressionism, and at the same time, to accept her father’s death. 


She is still looking for the reason why she loves abstract expressionism, but she believes Zen is the reason she loves abstract expressionism now.