Masami Teraoka mixes traditional ukiyo-e style elements with contemporary issues like AIDS or the increasing dominance of Personal Computers. His style is some kind of ukiyo-e pop art. Masami Teraoka is an internationally well recognized artist, born in Japan and now living in Hawaii.
First Publication: May 2001
Latest Update: June 2013
This is a good starter to get to know the art of Masami Teraoka. Watch this video, and you will incredibly impressed. Seeing the art of Masami Teraoka is like visiting a medieval cathedral.
The video was uploaded to Youtube by Vertigo1871. I do not know if this video was created in cooperation with the artist. Anyway, thanks and credits to Vertigo1871.
Masami Teraoka was born in Onomichi in Japan in 1936. He received his art training at the Kwansei Gakuin University in Kobe, Japan and at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. Since 1973 he had important solo exhibitions in such renowned places as the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York or the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His art works are in major permanent museum collections such as
Although the artist uses the style of traditional Japanese woodblock printing, he is not a printmaker. His art works are watercolors! He used watercolors as he said to "mimic woodblock prints".
He is one of the few artists who comment their art works. The following text explanations are by the artist himself.
"In 1989 I was a visiting artist at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia. During a slide lecture, I spoke about AIDS. Someone asked me a question about eyes and I was confused. Soon I realized the students were talking about AIDS with an accent.
At that time Australians, even doctors and nurses, didn't seem to worry about contracting AIDS. When I asked them what kind of protection surgeons and nurses used, they showed me paper hats and shoe covers."
"The geisha in the work represents an old-style Japanese woman, not necessary a traditional geisha. She followed the condom instructions carefully, but still contracted AIDS. The falling cherry blossom petals represent the beautiful memories of her life."
"A Japanese tourist emerges from the water. In front of him stands a Western woman almost losing her balance on the rocky reef. Overcome by the wondrous scene, he ponders taking a snap-shot. The crucial photo opportunity disappears however when he takes a moment to think about his Japanese girl-friend."
"I often wish my sensei (teacher) Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865) were alive. I would love to see how and what he would draw in America. I depict a fantasy scene of Kunisada in Hawaii watching the solar eclipse. His view is obscured by the sight of an American woman who diverts his attention, changing his sightseeing plans, as well as eclipsing the eclipse."
"In Japan, samurai would never have tattoos. Tattoo art is still considered a lower-class macho symbol, traditionally practised among yakuza (gangsters) and construction workers. A samurai with a tattoo could exist in America, where I painted the picture, because there are no such class restrictions.
The recent phenomenal popularity of tattooing shows how liberated American people are. If people like something, nothing keeps them from pursuing that desire."
"In the painted world of Hieronymus Bosch (ca. 1450-1516), Adam and Eve did not have condoms and computers. When Adam and Eve descend from heaven this time around, they are caught in a spider-web of modern technology. They don't need to see other humans in person because they can find friends through e-mail and communicate with "electronic people".
By moving a mouse they can travel, visit virtual museums, and learn about nature and animals, including the ones that are extinct. They can even study the paradise they lost! Adam and Eve are seduced by the American lifestyle. They enjoy this virtual life, but when the mouse no longer moves and the computer shuts down, they panic. They are Americans now!"
This video was produced by the Asian Art Museum at the occasion of an exhibition titled Beyond Golden Clouds: Five Centuries of Japanese Screens from 2010. Masami Teraoka speaks about screens and also a lot about his own works. Thanks to Asian Art Museum for sharing this with us.
Author: Dieter Wanczura
Paintings by Masami Teraoka, published by Arthur Sackler Gallery, Smithonian Institution, Washington, D.C. in association with Weatherhill, Inc. New York and Tokyo, 1996, ISBN 0-8348-0352-6.
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