Kotao Tomozawa with her large paintings | all images courtesy the artist
Kotao Tomozawa is a Tokyo-based painter currently attending Tokyo University of the Arts. Using her masterful grasp of texture, translucency and softness, she creates large, unique portraits that feature highly viscous slime-like substances covering the faces of her models. They are simultaneously disturbing yet gentle.
Born in 1999 to a Japanese mother and French father, Tomozawa spent several early childhood years in France before coming to Japan at the age of 5. Her mother, Mimiyo Tomozawa, is a manga artist and illustrator. In regards to her name, which is almost as unique as her paintings, she explains in an interview that she was named after the Ko Tao island of Thailand, which her parents visited once and fell in love with.
Having an artist as a mother, Tomozawa grew up drawing but first began oil painting in high school. And it wasn’t until college when she began incorporating slime into her paintings. If you ever made slime or bought slime and played with it as a child, there’s a good chance at one point you put in on your face. Tomozawa recalls this act, and the mystical inner-peace she felt, as a starting point of her work, which she says has a lot to do with revealing the many layers of expression.