Realism vs Abstraction


Fluc­tu­a­tions between the Abstract and the Real

Trac­ing the work of Takao Tan­abe over many decades, it is pos­si­ble to see fluc­tu­a­tions between an abstract and real­ist approach to land­scape. Exper­i­ment­ing with colour and form, he stud­ied in Win­nipeg under the painter Joe Plas­kett, pro­duc­ing lyri­cally abstracted, landscape-based works. Tan­abe and many of his peers, includ­ing Gor­don Smith and Jack Shad­bolt have used the land­scape as a source for abstrac­tion, using expan­sive views as depar­tures for for­mal explo­ration. Dur­ing the 1970s Tan­abe turned away from abstrac­tion, choos­ing to ren­der the sweep­ing Prairies, Rocky Moun­tains and coast­line of Canada with keen atten­tion to scale and detail. A period of reg­u­lar travel includ­ing flights and long dri­ves between British Colum­bia and Alberta marked this tran­si­tion from the abstract to the real.