From culture clashes and environmental degradation ...



by Charles Mason

Photos courtesy of

The Allen Memorial Art Museum


... to the AIDS epidemic and the increasingly invasive role of technology in modern life

Sometimes amusing, sometimes distressing, always provocative, Masami Teraoka's paintings and prints combine elements drawn from traditional Japanese ukiyo-e, American Pop Art, and, more recently, late Gothic and Renaissance religious paintings
La Boulangerie
The Allen Memorial Art Museum has brought to campus a rich collection of the work of one of the most original and exciting artists active in America during the last quarter century. Masami Teraoka continues to challenge the world with his unique artistic vision. Numerous attempts have been made over the last 25 years to pigeon-hole him--as a Japanese artist, as an American artist, and as an Asian-American artist. Yet while he is all of these, his highly individual combination of wit, imagination, and skill defies simplistic categorization. Teraoka's images transcend the boundaries of time, space, and culture, and must be interpreted by each viewer on their own terms.
The essentially immediate, open-minded nature of Teraoka's art is perhaps best explained by the artist himself. "I don't want my paintings to preach," Teraoka has said, "I am interested in that moment of confrontation with life when our psyche becomes shocked and naked--a vacuumed mind-set situation. A strong art is direct, but does not have any facade. It comes in a raw state."
Much of his early work, done in a Pop-influenced ukiyo-e style, commented wryly on the glaring differences between Japanese and American cultures, a theme that has appeared regularly in his works ever since. During the late 1970s and early '80s, Teraoka's work began addressing more controversial issues, such as the global spread of mass consumerism and the destruction of the natural environment. These new themes were still presented with irony and humor, but the overall tone of the images became decidedly darker and less whimsical than previously.