TAKAO TANABE "ATHENS" DRAWING, 1955
Despite the hardships, racism, and degradation of having been detained in an internment camp during WWII, Takao Tanabe (b. 1926) would rise to become one of Canada's most accomplished artists of the 20th century.
At the end of the war, Tanabe began his formal education at Winnipeg School of Art, with the intention of becoming a sign painter. By the early 1950's a combination of luck, ambition and talent brought him to New York City, to study with Reuben Tam and Hans Hoffmann, where he absorbed the emerging aesthetic trends of abstract expressionism. In 1953 Tanabe won an Emily Carr Scholarship which enabled him to spend over two years travelling and studying in Europe. While he was based in London (at the Central School of Arts and Crafts) he used this a base for exploring the continent, learning about Art History...and most importantly developing his own style.
This evocative and elegant drawing is a paradigm of Tanabe's style; taking the basic elements of a landscape, and expressing them in an ephemeral, misty and atmospheric vision. While Tanabe is a product of mid-century abstraction he is also indebted to painters like JMW Turner.
The "Grand Tour" is a tradition that is, sadly rarely practiced anymore by artists or art aficionados anymore. In previous centuries it was required journey for those serious about appreciating the development of art history and visual culture in the West. This beautiful drawing is an important memento of Tanabe's travels as a young man, but also as a paradigm of his emerging and signature style.
Tanabe's work can be found in numerous important collections across Canada and beyond including:
the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Glenbow Museum (Calgary), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa) and the Tate Museum, U.K
To learn more about Takao Tanabe, and to see how his aesthetic evolved, check out the National Gallery's bio and featured artworks here.
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Additional images available on request.
Signed, dated by the artist, including a personal monogram
Watercolor and mixed media on paper
18.5"W 12"H (artwork -visible)
26"W 20"H (framed)
Very good condition.
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