Japan Pavilion at the 52nd International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale in 2007: Artist Profile

Artist Profile

Photo of Masao Okabe

Masao Okabe

Masao Okabe

Born in Nemuro, Hokkaido in 1942. Graduating from Hokkaido Gakugei University (now Hokkaido University of Education) in 1965, Okabe began making street rubbing frottages in 1977. In 1979, while staying in Ivry-sur-Seine, a town adjacent to Paris’s 13th arrondissement, he produced 169 rubbings entitled “Membrane of a City.” From the latter half of the 1980s he has devoted himself to rubbings of atomic-bomb remains in Hiroshima. In 1996 he created “N’oubliez Pas” (Don’t Forget)” from a placard that depicts the history of the abduction of Jews from a community in Paris. Around that time, he embarked on a project, traveling to and from Paris, Hiroshima, Gwangju, Nemuro and other cities, of sending frottage impressions made at historical sites as aerograms to his friends around the world. Since a frottage collaboration in Noosa, Australia in 1988, he has actively worked in collaborations and conducted numerous workshops involving local residents while creating works and holding exhibitions in various cities in and outside Japan.


Major exhibitions of his works held at:

1965 Daimaru Gallery (Sapporo)
1980 Galerie Watari (Tokyo)
1985 Yoon Gallery (Seoul, Korea)
1986 Sagacho Exhibit Space (Tokyo)
1988 Noosa Museum (Noosa, Australia) / Milburn + Arté (Sydney, Australia)
1989 Hillside Gallery (Tokyo) / Temporary Space (Sapporo)
1991 Hokkaido Obihiro Museum of Art (Obihiro)
1996 Gallery Bazarez (Hiroshima)
1997 Alliance Française de Sapporo (Sapporo) / Espace Ohara (Tokyo)
2002 Maison Franco Japonaise (Tokyo)
2005 Continental Gallery (Sapporo) / Toki Art Space (Tokyo) / Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (Hiroshima) / Gallery G (Hiroshima) / Nemuro City Library (Nemuro)
2006 Kawaguchi Art Factory (Kawaguchi)

Major group exhibitions:
1965 “Hokkaido Independent Exhibition,” Imai Department Store (Asahikawa)
1979 “Novembre à Vitry,” Vitry City Museum (Vitry, France)
1981 “Sapporo Triennale,” Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art (Sapporo)
1984 “Hokkaido Art,” Provincial Museum of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada) and Glenbow Museum (Calgary, Canada)
1985 “Pan Pacific Art Exhibition in Seoul 1985,” Marronnier Art Center (Seoul, Korea)
1987 “Print Adventure,” National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea (Seoul, Korea)
1989 “Hiroshima,” Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (Hiroshima) / “Japanese Ways, Western Means,” Queensland Art Gallery (Brisbane, Australia)
1990 “Hanga (Prints) Expression 500 Years,” Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts (Machida)
1991 “Simultaneita: Nuove Direzioni Nell’arte Contemporanea Giapponese,” Museo di Roma (Rome, Italy) / “The 11th Seoul International Print Biennale 1991,” Marronnier Art Center (Seoul, Korea)
1993 “Contemporary Artists Series, 1993, Masao Okabe Exhibition,” Kanagawa Kenmin Hall (Yokohama) / “The 20th Ljubljana Print Biennale,” Museum of Modern Art Ljubljana (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
1994 “Sapporo Avant-garde Trend Exhibition,” Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art (Sapporo)
1995 “After Hiroshima,” Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (Hiroshima) / “Tracings of Postwar Culture 1945-1995,” Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo (Tokyo)
1996 “A Cross Section of Contemporary Japanese Prints,” Hokkaido Hakodate Museum of Art (Hakodate) / “1970s Prints,” Shoto Museum of Art, Shibuya (Tokyo)
1998 “Japanese Art, World Art: The Last 50 Years,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (Tokyo) / “Agart World Print Festival,” Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
1999 “From the Edge of Okhotsk: Three Vectors, Masao Okabe + Tadashi Tamaru + Hirotaka Hayashi,” Kitami Region Museum of Science, History and Art (Kitami)
2000 “The 3rd Gwangju Biennale 2000, Special Exhibit (Art and Human Rights),” Gwangju Biennale Hall (Gwangju, Korea) / “The Earth’s Art Festival: Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2000” (Niigata) / “From Great Horizon,” Kushiro Art Museum, Hokkaido (Kushiro) / “What Has Art Recorded?: Hokkaido Art in the 20th Century,” Hokkaido Obihiro Museum of Art (Obihiro)
2001 “Art for the Spirit: The Gaze of Eternity,” Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art (Sapporo) / “Contemporary Art’s Adventure,” Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (Hiroshima) / “Touching the Wind,” Sapporo Dome (Sapporo)
2002 “Contemporary “Prints” Exhibition,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Sapporo (Sapporo) / “Hiroshima’s Urban Image: ‘Town’ on Display,” Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (Hiroshima)
2003 “Korean Contemporary Prints Exhibition,” Sejong Culture Center (Seoul, Korea)
2004 “Yubari in Artistic Expression,” Yubari City Museum (Yubari)
2006 “Between Eco & Ego” (Kawaguchi)

Major frottage projects:

1979 “Membrane of a City” (Paris, France)
1988 “150-meter-long Rubbing of Hastings Street in Noosa,” Noosa —A New Dimension, Noosa Museum (Noosa, Australia)
1990 “Museum City Tenjin” (Fukuoka)
1991 “Sampietrini: Collaboration with Tokihiro Sato,” Simultaneita: Nuove Direzioni Nell’arte Contemporanea Giapponese, Museo di Roma—Palazzo Braschi (Rome, Italy) / “Obihiro Matrix 1991,” Hokkaido Obihiro Museum of Art (Obihiro)
1993 “Silk Road: Yokohama,” rubbings made from Hachioji to Yokohama, Kanagawa Kenmin Hall (Yokohama)
1996 “N’oubliez Pas (Don’t Forget),” the aerogram project launched, beginning from the Rue des Rosiers street (Jewish community) in the Marais district, Paris, 3rd arrondissement (Paris, France) / “Yubari Matrix,” begun in Mayachi area and elsewhere (Yubari) / “Hiroshima Memoir ’96,” Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (Hiroshima)
1999 “Twenty-three Letters to Dani Karavan,” Alliance Française de Sapporo (Sapporo)
2000 “The 3rd Gwangju Biennale 2000, Special Exhibit (Art and Human Rights),” Gwangju Biennale Hall (Gwangju, Korea) / “Study and Learn,” Chieria (Sapporo) / “The Earth’s Art Festival: Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2000” “Can We Meet Saburosama the Wind?” (Niigata)
2002 “International Symposium 2002 Intensive Discussion: A Hundred Letters Directed at ‘War and the Media,’” Maison Franco Japonaise (Tokyo) / “Sixty-nine Letters for ‘Beyond Hiroshima: Design of Peace,” 53rd National Congress of the Japanese Society for Aesthetics (Hiroshima)
2003 Why Is the Runway Here?” (Nemuro)
2004 “Rubbing of the A-bombed Bank of Japan, Hiroshima Branch” (Hiroshima)
2005 “Masao Okabe Synchro + City 2005 Project” (Sapporo and 9 other cities) / “Masao Okabe Synchronicity Project” (Hiroshima)
2006 “Kawaguchi Matrix” (Kawaguchi)

Major public collections:
National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea / Noosa Museum / Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo / Kanagawa Kenmin Hall / Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts / Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art / Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art / Hokkaido Obihiro Museum of Art / Kushiro Art Museum, Hokkaido / Yubari City Museum / Kitami Region Museum of Science, History and Art / Sapporo Comprehensive Lifelong Learning Center “Chieria” / Sapporo Dome

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