Saturday, February 27, 2010

Recommended & Closing Today: Takao Tanabe

A couple of weeks ago, I had planned on reviewing Takao Tanabe's Mira Godard show for the National Post, as well as a couple of other exhibitions in the (let's admit it, fairly hit-and-miss and overtly fusty/unhip) Yorkville galleries area. Because those reviews were pushed back a couple of weeks by the paper (as often happens in the media game) the review came out today, when the show is closing. Nevertheless, it's worth a look this afternoon if you can still make it. Here's my take.

Mira Godard's spotlight on senior Canadian artist Takao Tanabe, which closes today, is a treat. In addition to showing off some of Tanabe's striking abstract paintings of the 1950s and '60s, Godard does a real service to viewers by exhibiting later prints and a couple of more recent landscapes. The results provide a sense of how Tanabe's art has evolved. Small, bold, hard-edged jewels of paintings from the mid-1960s, for instance, have clear connections to the op-arty, mathematically inclined screenprints of the late 1960s. Tanabe's Landscape Fragment paintings of the late 1950s, which riffed on the graphic shapes outlined by rocks and trees, echo in recent woodblock prints of the B.C. coast. There's even a small collage, gifted to the gallery's owner in 1965, that shows off an elemental playfulness that's sometimes overlooked, given Tanabe's usually precise execution. Admittedly, some works here are stronger than others. A few 1950s paintings seem muddy in comparison to clearer, cleaner later works.

Image of Tanabe's Bands 1964 from Mira Godard Gallery

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