Masami Teraoka. Inversion of the Sacred

Clip from Masami Teraoka in conversation with Quin Matthews on the occasion of Masami Teraoka: Inversion of the Sacred, McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallas, March 15–May 3, 2014. Video by ArtMatters Radio TV.

Masami Teraoka developed a recurring cast of mythological characters—geisha and samurai, Adam and Eve, Catholic clergymen, snakes, catfish, and a trickster fox—icons that represent the government, church, society, and its moral qualities. In extravagant, uninhibited scenes, they are reminiscent of the carnal, hedonistic figures of Hieronymus Bosch (ca. 1450–1516), whose elaborate depictions of daily life, religion, and allegory Teraoka compares to the ukiyo-e artists he admires. “Bosch’s paintings are forceful [and] timeless . . . universal messages show a human nature and experience not very different from ours today,” he once described.1 Though Teraoka makes specific contemporary references, such as to technology and sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, his fantastic conflicts place current global culture in the context of history and place, more broadly portraying human pathos.

  1. Masami Teraoka, with Lynda Hess, “Monitoring Our Times,” in Paintings by Masami Teraoka (Washington, DC: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 1996), 53. ↩︎