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Academy Alumna Ryoko Tajiri Impresses Audiences All Over the Country

Joan Brown. Wayne Thiebaud. Nathan Oliveira. They are all celebrated, widely recognized artists associated with the Bay Area Figurative Movement. And although she isn’t as well known as them yet, Ryoko Tajiri is making a name for herself in the next generation of Bay Area Figurative artists.
 
Ryoko has had a longstanding love of art and design throughout her life. She used to accompany her mother, a fashion designer in Japan, to her office where Ryoko would work on her own designs and drawings. After studying graphic design and painting at Tama Art University in Tokyo, Ryoko came to Academy of Art University to further her studies in painting.

“I was eager to continue my studies, and my MFA studies at the Academy of Art University really helped me refine my skills,” she said. I also had the privilege of working close to many talented artists of all kinds.”

Academy of Art University’s emphasis on foundations classes particularly appealed to Ryoko as she wanted to learn the traditional skills of painting. She had the opportunity to study both abstract and representative painting. The figure is Ryoko’s favorite subject matter to paint, and she borrows techniques from each discipline to convey human emotion and drama. “I keep in mind an interesting concept which allows the viewers to connect their own feeling and memories,” she said. “ The figurative element allows for great dramas to unfold with simple suggestions.”

She found inspiration and guidance for her paintings from Academy instructors Suhas and Baoping Chen. Their focus on abstract principles helped Ryoko determine that she wanted to paint in the abstract figurative style.
 
“Baoping Chen really helped me improve my entire concept and focus. He brings out his students own character in their art, and he does not push his style or form,” she said.

Ryoko has participated in numerous exhibitions including her most recent show at the Art Foundry Gallery in Sacramento. She has participated in juried shows in New York, New Mexico and California and has also been featured in magazines. Her favorite show was a group show at the Art Foundry Gallery where she showed alongside Bay Area Figurative artist Nathan Oliveria.




“I used his art books as a source of inspiration for abstract painting when I attended Academy of Art University,” she recalled. “I was very excited when I saw his sculpture next to my paintings. I felt honored.”

Ryoko realized that in order to be a professional artist, there are many other responsibilities besides painting.  Though she was not very fond of marketing her work, she knew that it was essential to getting her paintings exposure. Participating in the Academy’s art shows definitely helped Ryoko as well as the encouragement to enter competitions.

“The day you graduate you are practically prepared for a gallery – that is how they [the Academy] design the program,” she said.

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