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Sexy Traditions

Painter Masami Teraoka’s exhibit at the Catherine Clark museum in San Francisco. engages the audience into a discussion on Aids, female orgasm, contraceptives and transmission of STD’s. He lays before our very na‹ve eyes themes that are often taboo in western culture

Teraoka’s Japanese prints and watercolors are striking to the eye not just because of the explicit themes, but foremost, because of their style. I was swept up by the energy and dialogue his work provokes.

At sixty years of age, Teraoka has articulated his observations of Japanese traditions at their intersection with the modern age and the western world. Using traditional Japanese prints or watercolors that mimic prints, Teraoka’s style is a postmodern reflection of the prints created in Japans Edo period. In his series, such as “Sarah and the Octopus” Teraoka has created images that are full of energy with bright, vivid colors with playful sexual imagery.

Contrasting, are the oil and watercolor paintings of “Adam and Eve” and “Virtual Inferno Series.” These images are compact compositions in darker earth tones with a mysterious, perverse mood. The narrative is that of a mysterious gathering of religious authority in a perverse underground of which the European religious tradition of hypocrisy, abuse and victimization is exposed. These paintings maintain a low energy of harsh stillness.

The eye may be easily overwhelmed, shocked and confused by this style at first but once the mind and eye relax, the narratives of Teraoka’s images unfold. What are revealed are the unbalance of the harsh sexual imagery in these series and the straight forwardness of sexual boldness in the Japanese series.