Curated by Bryce Kanbara, Guest Curator, Graham Gallery
“This exhibition is an introduction to the work and importance of four nisei (second generation Japanese Canadian) artists born in the latter half of the 1920s. Despite the challenge of making productive lives and fitting into Canadian society, which faced all Japanese Canadians at that time, Roy Kiyooka, Kazuo Nakamura, Shizuye Takashima and Takao Tanabe, independently found their ways to artmaking. They built practices, careers and reputations which have become significant parts of Canadian art and art history.
These four artists, geographically separated and largely unaware of one another, fostered distinctly different practices. Yet, each of them knew the negative consequences of being of Asian heritage in pre-WWII Canada, as well as the paradoxical, beneficial effects that can accrue from association with the rich cultural legacy of Japan. They seemed to approach their common Japanese Canadian heritage, at turns, with both obliviousness and acknowledgment. They set the bar high for succeeding generations of Japanese Canadians in the arts, and accounts of their lives provide all of us with inspirational examples of what it takes to make a difference.” – Bryce Kanbara, Guest Curator
This exhibition will open in conjunction with the city wide arts symposium Gei organized by the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC), in collaboration with UVic with funding from the Canada Council. One hundred Japanese Canadian artists from across Canada will gather in Victoria for a three day symposium at the newly restored pavilion at Esquimalt Gorge Park Pavillion, the historic site of the original Japanese tea house run by the Takata family. The Takata’s were forced to abandon the tea house in 1941 when Canadians of Japanese ancestry were sent to internment camps.