Artwork by Takao Tanabe,  Autumn Foothills

Takao Tanabe
Autumn Foothills

acrylic on canvas
signed and dated 1983 lower right; signed, titled, dated “3/83” and inscribed “Errington” on the reverse
26 x 72 ins ( 66 x 182.9 cms )

Auction Estimate: $60,000.00$40,000.00 - $60,000.00

Price Realized $37,760.00
Sale date: November 19th 2019

The Collection of TC Energy, Toronto
Roger H. Boulet, Takao Tanabe: Wet Coasts and Dry Lands, Kelowna, 2000, page 9
Ian M. Thom, Art BC: Masterworks from British Columbia, Vancouver, 2000, page 204
Studying under Joseph Plaskett in his second year at the Winnipeg School of Art, Takao Tanabe furthered his technique of soft, atmospheric painting. In the post-war era of heavy painterly abstraction imbued with passionate emotive brushstrokes and bold colour, Tanabe instead favoured the softer restrained calm within both his abstract and landscape works. Similar to Kazuo Nakamuran in Toronto, Tanabe leaned more towards a soothing quality in his landscape artworks. Importantly, in 1959, Tanabe visited his ancestral Japan to study traditional Japanese painting and calligraphy which had a profound impact on his artistic practice. Light layered washes of acrylic paint within his paintings typified his developed technique whereby the artist created a more “muted, non-textural colour, that did not necessarily attract attention to its painterly qualities but focused the viewer on the overall effect of the minimal landscape forms without distracting detail.” Roger Boulet attributed this technique to Tanabe creating a “zen landscape...convincing as both a landscape and as a modern painting.”

“Autumn Foothills” depicts a dramatic panorama at the base of a mountain range executed in a subdued palette of greys, sand and olive greens. The soothing palette employed exemplifies Tanabe’s preference for the scheme inspired by his return to British Columbia in 1980. On these works from the 1980s, Ian Thom notes: “In a series of hauntingly beautiful, formally rigorous images, he has explored his particular interests: the strong lines of the horizons, the rich but difficult palette of greys and blues and their allied tones, and the exceptional quality of the light of the coast.” There is a grand epic tone to “Autumn Foothills” with the expansive foreground, lightly clouded sky and scale of the composition. The viewer is left with the same overwhelming feeling of awe within the landscape which Tanabe experiences in his travels across Canada.

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Takao Tanabe
(1926) RCA

Born in British Columbia in 1926, Takao Tanabe has been an important figure in Canadian painting for over 50 years. Tanabe studied in Europe, the United States, and Japan. Following a decade as head of the art program and artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre, he returned to British Columbia in 1980 where he currently lives and works.