(Peru, b. 1960)
Born in Lima to Japanese parents (Victor Tokeshi and Sara Namiza), Eduardo Tokeshi came into his own as an artist during the 1980s, a tumultuous time of armed conflict and political strife in his native Peru. As a Japanese-Peruvian, Tokeshi sees in himself two opposing, yet complementary, identities: a silent, ordered Japanese half coexisting with a chaotic Peruvian one. Describing his childhood, he evokes a sense of continual navigation between two separate worlds: “I always say that I was educated on the island of Okinawa, in the center of Lima.”
Trained in architecture and city planning, and later in painting, Tokeshi has explored numerous media, styles, and themes. He has worked in paint, fabric, and found objects; created installations, book covers, and prints; and addressed themes as diverse as religion, family, violence, death, and the meaning of “homeland.” Unifying his oeuvre, however, is a sense of irony and playfulness, as well as a perpetual exploration of identity. A gifted draftsman, Tokeshi works as an illustrator and as a designer of theatrical scenery. In his studio, he displays for his own contemplation particularly iconic pieces of his own work, to serve as a visual record of his artistic development.
One of his signature artistic practices involves his use of Marcel Duchamp’s ready-made concepts. Tokeshi, in the view of some experts, utilizes a form of contemporary recycling, in which he repurposes ideas and objects from his everyday life, infusing them with new meaning. With regard to his Japanese and Peruvian worlds, he once noted in a conversation that he had found a way to juxtapose his two identities through artistic appropriation; an example being his artwork Las casitas de fe (altares), which incorporates the Peruvian retablo (traditional, iconic, and folkloric wooden boxes that display religious or historic scenes) along with the Japanese butsudan—a Buddhist family altar found in Japanese households—an object that, in Tokeshi’s words, “is always present, can never miss.”
As part of his extensive exhibition history, Tokeshi in 2003 exhibited in the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas’ main building gallery, and was featured prominently in the Getty’s esteemed Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibition Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of the Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City and São Paulo in 2017.
Archives of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas