Feast of Fools: The Triptych Paintings of Masami Teraoka

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    Masami Teraoka in his studio.

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    'The Cloisters Last Supper—Triptych Series' (details), 2009-2015.

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May 30, 2015 - August 30, 2015
Honolulu Museum of Art


Exhibition Overview

This exhibition presents a selection of paintings from The Cloisters Last Supper—Triptych Series by Hawai‘i-based, internationally known artist Masami Teraoka. Known for his highly-finished watercolors combining Japanese ukiyo-e style and contemporary imagery that highlighted the clash between Asian and Western culture, Teraoka in 2000 made an extended trip to Europe, including stays in Italy and Spain where he became intrigued with religious history and ritual and was visually influenced by late Medieval and early Renaissance art. Returning to the U.S., to New York City, just days after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Teraoka began a shift in his work, taking up oil painting on canvas and panel and exploring Western, particularly Catholic religious subject matter and formats.

In his extensive series of triptych paintings, done in the style of late Medieval/early Renaissance gold-ground altarpieces (comprising a large central panel, with double-sided wing panels which can be opened and closed), Teraoka lays out his concern about issues of change and conflict in our time by depicting expansive narratives of social and moral turmoil, melding art historical references and iconography with contemporary figures and controversial events widely covered in the media. Always attuned to what is happening in the world, Teraoka adds to his cast of players (Pope Francis, members of the Pussy Riot band, and a Japanese geisha appear in his recent paintings). The exhibition title refers to a popular Middle Ages festival, in which power, dignity, and impunity was briefly conferred on those normally in a subordinate positiona mock bishop or pope was elected by the common people, ecclesiastical ritual was parodied, and high and low officials temporarily changed places.

Cloisters Last Supper—Triptych Series overtly addresses Catholic clerical sex abuse,” explains Teraoka. “Underlying this theme, I see an authoritative institution trying to dictate individuals’ sexual relationships, gender and morality. To bring out such compelling cultural issues and put them on the Last Supper table may be an appropriate place to start a dialogue to investigate the nature of these abuses. The Vatican’s history and culture as an institution with worldwide influence has inspired me, especially since fundamental human-equality issues have always been at the top of my priority list.”

Gallery walk-through video
Watch a discussion of Feast of Fools featuring Masami Teraoka and curator Jay Jensen from May 27, 2015. Warning: Some of the images and topics may not be suitable for children.

See the artist in the gallery
Tuesday-Friday, June 9-July 3, noon-4pm

See the artist at work on his unfinished triptych Pussy Riot/Swan Lake.

Second and last Sunday of the month, June-August, 2-3pm
On the second and last Sunday of each month, from June to August, Masami Teraoka will be in the gallery.
He will open and close the triptychs and answer questions .
Dates: June 14 + 28, July 12 + 26, August 9 + 23

In the Museum Shop
Now available in the Museum Shop are posters of works by Masami Teraoka ($150-$200 for signed posters, $45-$90 for unsigned posters); and a limited quantity of original prints of his famous work 31 Flavors Invading Japan/Todayʻs Special ($3,500 framed, $3,000 unframed).

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