Masami Teraoka standing in front of 'Kunisada eclipsed' at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Mount Kisco, New York, 1992
Gift of Kenneth Tyler 2002
Photographer: Marabeth COHEN-TYLER

Masami Teraoka was born in Onomichi, Japan, in 1936 and received his BA in aesthetics from the Kwansei Gakuin University in Kobe, before relocating to the United States. Here he studied at the Otis Art Institute and received his MFA in 1968. Teraoka, who works with painting as well as prints, came to Tyler Graphics in 1992 and created the Hawaii snorkel series. Drawing on the traditions of American Pop and Japanese ukiyo-e prints and paintings, Teraoka created the series from woodblocks and many prints were hand coloured.

Teraoka’s work has always had a social and political purpose; after moving to America he continuously addressed the cultural collision between East and West and the prints from the Hawaii snorkel series are no exception.

In Catfish envy the often ambiguous nature of cross-cultural dialogue is explored. Here, a Japanese Samurai leers at a Western woman who embraces a catfish. In the Tyler Graphics publication that accompanied the Hawaii snorkel series, Teraoka highlights the uncertainty that pervades the image: is the Samurai’s leer one of chauvinistic voyeurism, a stereotype often levelled at the Japanese male, or is he simply startled by the woman’s overt display of public affection, which would have been taboo in Japanese society?
Emilie Owens

Further reading


Born in Onomichi, Japan

Attends Kwansei Gakuin University, Kobe, Japan; receives Bachelor of Arts degree in Aesthetics

Receives Masters of Fine Arts degree from Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles

Solo exhibition, Masami Teraoka: la brea tar pits suite, at Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota

Solo exhibition, New views of Mt. Fuji, and 31 flavors invading Japan, at Space Gallery, Los Angeles; solo exhibition, at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California

Receives Kay Nielsen Memorial Purchase Award through the Graphic Arts Council, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California

Travelling exhibition, Masami Teraoka, originating at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, New York

Awarded Individual Artist's Fellowship from National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC

Solo exhibitions, Teraoka erotica at Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, California; Amerika Haus, United States Cultural Center, Berlin, West Germany

Solo exhibition, Masami Teraoka: east meets west, at Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art, Monterey, California; included in exhibition, Origins originality + beyond, Sydney biennale, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia

Solo exhibition, Masami Teraoka: American kabuki/oishiiwa, at Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawaii; conducts lecture at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California

Travelling exhibition, Waves and plagues, originating at The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu

Awarded Individual Artist's Fellowship from National Endowment for the Arts; retrospective exhibition, Masami Teraoka: an exhibition of graphic work: 1976–1989, at Weingart Center, Los Angeles

Included in travelling exhibition, From media to metaphor: art about AIDS, originating at Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle, Washington; selected as Visiting Artist, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia; delivered lecture at Canberra School of Art, Australia

Completes Hawaii snorkel series of woodcut, etching, aquatint prints at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Mount Kisco; included in exhibition, Paintings of water in the art of Japan, Museum im Schloss, Stadt Bad Pyrmont, Germany; included in International biennale of graphic art, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Included in exhibition, Don’t leave me this way: art in the age of AIDS, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Retrospective exhibition, Paintings by Masami Teraoka, at Arthur M Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Travelling exhibition, Masami Teraoka: from tradition to technology, organised by Chikumagawa Highway Museum, Obuse, Japan

Ascending chaos: marierier af Masami Teraoka,Frederiks Bastion, Copenhagen, Denmark

Solo exhibition, Masami Teraoka: works on paper 1972–2002, Catherine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, California

Included in exhibitions, No name fever: HIV/AIDS in the age of globilisation, Museum of World Culture, Gothenburg, Sweden; Bodyworks, de Young Museum, San Francisco; The art of engagement, San Jose Museum of Art, California

Included in Asia-Pacific triennial of contemporary art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia

Masami Teraoka currently lives and works in Waimanalo, Hawaii and Los Angeles, California

Barbara Delano © Tyler Graphics Ltd., revised Kate Buckingham, 2006
This chronology provides an overview of selected biographical information, major solo and group exhibitions held within the artist's own lifetime.

Further information will be added to this site as the National Gallery proceeds with its research and documentation.

Last updated January 2017