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Takao Tanabe

Takao Tanabe lives and works in Parksville, British Columbia


A senior Canadian artist, Takao Tanabe has been making paintings for nearly 50 years. While he began his career as an abstract painter, he is primarily known as a landscape painter. Although his references to the land were not always conscious, Tanabe believes “(he) was always a landscape painter”. As early as 1953, artists and critics identified his abstract expressionistic work with real or imagined landscapes. Even his most hard-edged paintings evoke, in their curving forms and gray tonalities, the natural environment of Canada’s West Coast.


Takao’s paintings, drawings, and prints reveal an enduring preoccupation with place, suggesting a search to belong to nature – a need to identify with some stretch of land as yet uncontaminated by human kind. Although Tanabe’s landscapes vary topographically, each work seems more directed towards formalist and aesthetic concerns. These scenes have in common, a sense of vast scale and loneliness. For the artist this emptiness is deliberate. Tanabe affirms:


“What I want is this completely unoccupied, pristine land, as though I’m the first person to see it. It’s lonely, it’s mysterious, it has wonderful appeal to me. I feel great kinship with it.” 


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