People / Takao Tanabe

Artist, educator. Takao Tanabe was born in Prince Rupert, British Columbia in 1926. He is an internationally recognized artist and a distinguished teacher. Tanabe’s early paintings of the 1950s and 1960s were predominantly abstract, adopting hard-edged geometries and strong colours. His work evolved during the 1970s to semi-abstract landscapes—most often of the West Coast of British Columbia—that were dominated by strong horizons and large swaths of sky and water, evoking a sense of vastness, emptiness, and serenity. Tanabe paints in thin, translucent acrylic washes reminiscent of watercolour.

Tanabe’s artistic studies were wide and varied, and include years at the Winnipeg School of Art (1946-1949), where he studied under and befriended Joseph Plaskett, the Brooklyn Museum Art School (1951-1952), the Banff School of Fine Arts (1953), the Central School of Arts and Crafts (London), through an Emily Carr Foundation Scholarship (1954), and Tokyo University, through a Canada Council Scholarship (1959). In addition to his prestigious artistic career, Tanabe taught at the Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art + Design), and was Head of the Art Department and Artist-in-Residence at the Banff School of Fine Art. He has received honourary doctorates from Emily Carr University of Art + Design and the University of Lethbridge, membership in the Royal Canadian Academy (1967), the Order of British Columbia (1993), the Order of Canada (1999), and the Governor General’s Visual and Media Arts Award (2003).
Additional information and materials about Takao Tanabe are available on request in Art, Architecture and Planning at the University of British Columbia Library.