Dark­ness — Graphite and Pencil

Tanabe’s graphite works are ren­dered with dense tonal­i­ties and care­ful ten­sion between light and dark. Many of his graphite works depict Cana­dian prairie scenes. Works from the lat­ter part of the 1970s and early 1980s tend to be read as ‘inte­rior land­scapes’, mir­ror­ing a time of per­sonal upheaval and reset­tle­ment.  Tanabe’s empha­sis on the hori­zon line con­veys a spa­tial nego­ti­a­tion between the vast­ness of prairie and ocean, the jux­ta­po­si­tion between one thing and another. The hori­zon line is a metaphorically-charged point of con­stancy and dis­tance. Just as Tanabe’s ‘white paint­ings’ of the 1950s had explored the divi­sion of land and sky, his black works of the 1970s seem to explore the nature of spa­tial experience.