Takao Tan­abe has been mak­ing art­work for more than six decades. Born in 1926 on the north coast at Seal Cove, British Colum­bia, Tan­abe had very lit­tle early expo­sure to art. As a youth he often accom­pa­nied his father on com­mer­cial fish­ing excur­sions up the Skeena River. Dur­ing World War II — his teenage years — he and his fam­ily were detained by the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment along with other Japanese-Canadians in an intern­ment camp.

Dur­ing the years after his release, Tan­abe stud­ied at the Win­nipeg School of Art (1946−49) with the orig­i­nal inten­tion of becom­ing a sign painter. From 1951–52, he spent time in New York work­ing along­side pre-eminent Abstract Expres­sion­ists, includ­ing Hans Hof­mann at the Brook­lyn Museum of Art School. Tan­abe con­tin­ued his stud­ies at the Cen­tral School of Arts & Crafts in Lon­don, Eng­land dur­ing 1954 and later trav­elled to Japan

where he stud­ied at Tokyo’s Uni­ver­sity of Fine Arts (1959). Between the years 1959 and 1962 he trav­elled through­out the east­ern United States renew­ing his inter­est in land­scape. As a teacher, Tan­abe worked at the Van­cou­ver School of Art (now Emily Carr Uni­ver­sity of Art and Design) from 1962–65 and again from 1967–68. From 1973–80 he was head of visual arts at the Banff Cen­tre School of Fine Arts. Tan­abe is the recip­i­ent of many dis­tinc­tions includ­ing hon­orary doc­tor­ate degrees from the Uni­ver­sity of Leth­bridge and Emily Carr Uni­ver­sity of Art and Design, named to both the Order of British Colum­bia and Order of Canada, and in 2003 was selected for the Gov­er­nor General’s Award in the Visual and Media Arts.

Tanabe’s works on paper – his draw­ings, prints and water­colours, stand alone as exquis­ite and masterfully-composed works, yet at the same

time these works offer entry points into stages of study, exper­i­men­ta­tion and devel­op­ment for his paint­ing prac­tice. As an insti­tu­tion spe­cial­iz­ing in works on paper, the Burn­aby Art Gallery is hon­oured to present, for the first time, an exhi­bi­tion which cov­ers the expanse of Tanabe’s com­po­si­tions on paper. Many of the works pre­sented in this exhi­bi­tion are being seen by the pub­lic for the first time.

Exhib­ited and col­lected inter­na­tion­ally, Takao Tanabe’s inter­ests have cir­cum­scribed the sub­ject of the British Colum­bia land­scape through abstrac­tion, to real­ism, and back again. Tan­abe con­tin­ues to draw inspi­ra­tion from the West Coast, main­tain­ing a stu­dio prac­tice in Parksville. Work­ing through var­i­ous for­mal rep­re­sen­ta­tions of place, Takao Tanabe’s dis­tin­guished career con­tin­ues to present new vis­tas which remind us again of the vast and mys­te­ri­ous realms we inhabit.