“Time and place are but a trick of the eye, a slight turn of the revolving global stage. Cultures and concepts may shift at any time, and collide at will.”
– Allison Bing on the work of Masami Teraoka in Ascending Chaos: The Art of Masami Teraoka 1966-2006
Masami Teraoka was born in 1936 in Onomichi, Hiroshima-ken, Japan. He graduated from Kwansei Gakuin University with a B.A. in Aesthetics in 1959. At the age of 25, he moved to the United States and attended Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, where he graduated with a B.F.A. and went on to receive his M.F.A. in 1968.
Five of Teraoka’s early works are housed in the Escalette Collection, four of which are currently on display in Beckman Hall. Teraoka’s sense of humor and irony can be seen in the titles of these pieces, which include two works from the series 31 Flavors Invading Japan. These pieces address the clash between Teraoka’s own two personal cultures as well as the issue of cultural globalization. He was concerned at this time about the fast food industry homogenizing world tastes. This Western idea of “fast food” is juxtaposed with a traditional Japanese ukiyo-e (floating world) woodblock print style, challenging the viewers’ initial conceptions of “traditional” East Asian art.
Teraoka often refers to this “revolving global stage” as “Masami-za” – his own form of Kabuki theater through art. These early works later developed into subjects concerning 21st century Western society’s moral hypocrisy, featuring stock characters that act to exemplify Teraoka’s portrayal of contradictions.