Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1998-1999 index

Distributed January 8, 1999
Contact: Glenn Hare

The Floating World Comes of Age

Bell Gallery to show Masami Teraoka retrospective through March 7

The David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University will present "Masami Teraoka: From Tradition to Technology, the Floating World Comes of Age" from Jan. 23 through March 7, 1999. The retrospective will feature more than 30 paintings produced by the Japanese-American painter during the last 25 years.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- An exhibition showcasing the art of Japanese-American painter Masami Teraoka will be presented at the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University from Jan. 23 through March 7, 1999. The retrospective, "Masami Teraoka: From Tradition to Technology, the Floating World Comes of Age," will include more than 30 works that survey the artist's production from 1974 to the present.

As part of the exhibition, Alexandra Munroe, director of the Japan Society Gallery, will lecture on the artist's work. Munroe will present "Masami Teraoka and the Japanese Avant Garde" at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, in the List Art Center Auditorium. A reception will follow the lecture.

Trained at Kwamseo Gakuin University in Kobe, Japan, and at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, Teraoka creates paintings that are humorous, irreverent and sometimes poignant commentaries on contemporary cultural issues. Influenced by ukiyo-e, a style of Japanese woodblock prints from the 18th and 19th centuries, Teraoka's watercolors place geishas, kabuki actors and samurais in modern-day situations where they encounter hamburgers, snorkels, roller blades, condoms, video cameras and computers.

"For more than 25 years, Teraoka has examined the cultural clash between his native Japan and his adopted homeland in the United States," said Jo-Ann Conklin, director of the Bell Gallery. "He uses humor to address many complex and difficult societal issues."

The exhibition, which was displayed at the 1998 Nagano Olympic Cultural Program, will feature several early pieces from Teraoka's career. "It will include selections from McDonald's Hamburgers Invading Japan and Venice Nude Beach, which portrays the artist as a 19th-century pilgrim in a land of fast food and nude bathing beauties," Conklin said.

The retrospective also will feature pieces that reflect Teraoka's response to the AIDS epidemic, environmental destruction, and the alienation of contemporary society at the hands of computer technology. Works from the AIDS Series and The Adam and Eve Series will be shown. In the AIDS Series, for example, Teraoka portrays photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who died of AIDS, as a samurai confronting the prejudices of an outraged government official. The Adam and Eve Series shows the Biblical couple as the first casualties of modern technology.

In addition, the exhibit will showcase a small number of Teraoka seascapes and landscapes. "The works simply describe the beauty of the California and Hawaiian coastline," said Conklin.

Teraoka's paintings have been shown in galleries and museums throughout the United States, Japan and Europe, and are included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Museum of American Art and the Honolulu Contemporary Museum.

The exhibition is free and open to the public. Bell Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 1-4 p.m. For more information call (401) 862-2932.

Editors: A selection of black-and-white prints and color transparencies is available through Glenn Hare in the Brown News Bureau at (401) 863-2476. Some of the works presented in this exhibition contain explicit sexual themes and depictions in the classical Japanese shunga (erotica) tradition.