As a young artist and sculptor, Tony was influenced by the varied work of Picasso, Matisse, Jasper Johns, Richard Serra, Isamu Noguchi and others. He moved to New York in the mid-1980s and became an assistant to well-known sculptor Mark di Suvero shortly after he had opened Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. Tony was able to work on his own sculptures which he later exhibited in museums and galleries in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Since 2005, Tony has returned to his art with a fresh vision, vigor and new tools. Tony now considers himself a “sculptor of pixels”. He uses the most basic digital tools to manipulate and layer pixels as if he were working with clay or stone. His secret goes back to the elemental style of his early sculptures, using the simplest of tools – this time the technology was what he used regularly for his business presentations – Powerpoint! In Tony’s hands this tool worked a new kind of magic, as he integrated the Japanese aesthetic of multiple panels or “byōbu” in a single piece.
Traveling often to Japan for Silicon Graphics, Tony began to notice and admire the work of an emerging young artist Mayako Nakamura who shared her work with him through Flickr’s global online community of artists. Mayako is a painter, living and working in Tokyo. She has been exhibiting her work in both domestic and foreign venues since 2009. After exchanging a few pieces, the two decided to work on a complementary series that would engage each of their unique styles. While both were influenced by abstract expressionism, Tony merged high resolution images of both Mayako’s paintings and his photomontages. With this he opened up a path toward creating compelling iterations, with over 5,000 miles of ocean between the the two artists.
While in Japan, Tony used his photography to do what he called “gathering pixels”. He would later ‘sculpt’ these textures, colors and landscapes into a digital image combining pixels, paint and nature though this unique approach. He would print this final piece on his large-scale printer and send it back to Mayako, who would then paint directly onto the printed piece. She explains her working method: "I trace the shapes of space and boundaries in everyday, as my body feels. When numerous senses woven together with the impressions of the reality that my mind has already known, and with the universal shapes that my kokoro longs for, another day appears on my canvas. I'm attempting to create another everyday, which seems more essential than the actual living, by painting atmospheres; emotions and actions that can't be expressed by words; nothing special, but surely existing."
After Mayako created the newly painted artwork on top of Tony’s original print, she would ship the piece to Tony in Santa Cruz, CA who would then capture a digital high-res image of the work and then re-engage the pixels to expose lost tones, colors and mood from the first iteration.
Finally, what emerged was a beautiful symphony of three pieces that complemented each other and told a story of ebb and flow. This process was replicated four times creating three iterations each of Pearl Matrix, Bright Morning, Elated Flight, and Dance of Leaves each scaling between 20" x 40" to 20" x 48". Realizing the elegant partnership of these pieces, it became clear that the iterations must stay together in full appreciation of their individual stories.
Tony and Mayako continued working on a slightly smaller scale (10" x 20") with two more pieces, Found Treasure and Nature’s Paint each having only two iterations, the original digital print from Tony, and Mayako’s brushed versions.