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  • Reinier Asmoredjo | Cultural Encounters

    Reinier Asmoredjo (Suriname, b. 1962) Reinier Asmoredjo was born in Paramaribo, Suriname, to a family of Javanese descent. He completed his studies at the Academy of Art and Culture Higher Education in Paramaribo in 1989, and in 1995 took on a teaching position at Algemene Middelbare School. In 2001, he began work as a professor at the Academy of Art and Culture. Asmoredjo’s brushstrokes, full of color and energy, share similarities with those of Cuban artist Wifredo Lam, also part of this exhibition. Asmoredjo's canvases are full circles, which variously serve as symbols of the sun, fertility, and the eternal cycle of life. Woman, as a principle of eternal energy, is a frequent theme of his work; another is the cultural richness of Suriname. As he explains: “Maroon women in traditional garb, dancing or at work, traditional elements from my own Javanese background, are particular favorites in my work.” Asmoredjo joined the Association of Visual Artists in Suriname in 1999, and the Association of Fine Art in Suriname in 2011. He has exhibited extensively in Suriname at the Readytex Art Gallery. back to collection

  • Wifredo Lam | Cultural Encounters

    Wifredo Lam (Cuba, b. 1902 – Paris, d. 1982) Wifredo Lam was born in Cuba to an Afro-Cuban mother, Ana Serafina Castilla, and Yam Lam, a Cantonese immigrant employed at a sugar plantation. He was raised in the barrio chino of Sagua La Grande, in Las Villas province (today Santa Clara). Lam’s father maintained his Chinese religious beliefs, as well as other elements of Chinese culture, such as traditional calligraphy. Lam’s aunt, with whom he was very close, was a santera of the Afro-Cuban religion; nevertheless, his mother, who had Spanish as well as African roots, chose to raise him in the Roman Catholic and European cultural traditions. Lam’s artistic talents soon won him international acclaim; however, due to US restrictions on Chinese immigration, he was not able to visit New York City until 1946, even though his work had been shown there continually since the early 1940s. Having worked with cubists and surrealists while living in Spain and France during the 1920s and 1930s, Lam employed a synthesis of surrealism and cubism in his art—with major influences from Picasso, Cézanne, and Matisse—while also integrating his Afro-Cuban heritage; particularly his interest in African “primitivism” and the sculptural traditions of New Guinea. As a major Latin American artist who also played a vital role in the Parisian avant-garde, Lam has been widely studied and debated. For instance, some scholars contend that there is no formal evidence of his Chinese heritage in his work. Roberto Cobas, curator of Havana’s Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, has argued that if there is a trace of Chinese culture in Lam’s oeuvre, it shows itself only in the discipline with which he devoted himself to his work on paper—drawing, etching, aquatint, lithographs—during the 1960s through the 1980s. Speaking generally, Cobas explains: “Beyond the simultaneity of his creations, whether they are close to figuration or abstraction, or the approach to his themes, new or recurrent, Lam imposes a singular plastic resource. This is due to the alignment of the elements coming from the cultures—Afro-Caribbean, European, Asiatic and the Pacific Islands.” back to collection

  • Tilsa Tsuchiya | Cultural Encounters

    Tilsa Tsuchiya (B. 1928 – D. 1984 ) Tilsa Tsuchiya Castillo was a contemporary prtint maker and . She is considered one of the greatest exemplars of Peruvian painting for having won the prestigious Bienal of Teknoquimica Prize for painting. Her teacher, Ricardo Grau, had also been presented the Bienal award in a previous year. Tsuchiya graduated from the of in 1959. Peruvian painter Escuela Nacional Superior Autónoma de Bellas Artes Peru

  • Suchitra Mattai | Cultural Encounters

    Suchitra Mattai (Guyana, b. 1974) Suchitra Mattai’s family has its roots in the wave of Indian migrants who arrived in British Guiana over a century ago to work as indentured servants. An immigrant herself, Mattai left Guyana when she was three years old and has since lived in Wolfville, Nova Scotia; Udaipur, India; and, in the United States, in Philadelphia, New York, Minneapolis, and Denver, where she currently resides. She received her MFA in painting and drawing and her MA in South Asian art from the University of Pennsylvania; while pursuing her PhD in South Asian art, she opted to become a full-time artist. Mattai is a multimedia artist who works with painting, collage, installation, video, and sculpture. Her materials range from found paintings and clippings from National Geographic to needlepoint and embroidery. ​ Mattai’s highly conceptual pieces deal with issues of identity and the role of women in the arts while challenging suppressive narratives such as those associated with colonialism. Using landscape as a metaphor for an imagined identity, she creates multilayered conceptual landscapes out of the hegemonic detritus of colonialism—repurposing materials such as textiles to reflect on the imprint of colonialism on her family history, or on the role of women in artistic discourse. In her creative process, Mattai (in her words) “collaborates with the past,” using found objects and appropriating cultural, historic, and domestic elements. Her work also illuminates her concept of home and family, as she explains: “Through family narratives, memories, and photographs, I have always been reminded of my homeland, yet simultaneously felt alienated from it. My family’s migratory path from Guyana to Canada to the United States never led to a place of connection.” ​ In , a work of woven mixed-media based on a found photo of a possible location of El Dorado (the legendary kingdom of gold sought by conquistadors), Mattai explores the idea of home and colonization, while referencing the weaving practices of her mother and grandmothers, which she uses as a metaphor for the interlacing of cultures. El Dorado After All ​ Similarly, in her collage , Mattai fuses together fragments of her past—including images of Hindu goddesses and scraps of knitting magazines from the 1950s and 1960s—in search of a lucid cultural identity and that ever-elusive sense of connection. Untitled back to collection

  • Eduardo Tokeshi | Cultural Encounters

    Eduardo Tokeshi (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 , 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.” Las casitas de fe (altares) 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 exhibition in 2017. Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of the Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City and São Paulo Vida y milagros del hombre invisible. OAS exhibition brochure, 2003 Archives of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas 1/2 back to collection

  • M.P. Alladin | Cultural Encounters

    M.P. Alladin (Trinidad and Tobago, B. 1919 – D. 1980) Born in Tacarigua, Trinidad and Tobago, Mohammed Pharouk Alladin was one of the first visual artists to emerge from the country’s large Indian population. He was most influential, however, as an art educator. He earned his teaching certificate in Trinidad, after the British Council awarded him a scholarship to the Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts; and in the United States he earned his master’s degree from Columbia University. Alladin founded Trinidad’s Art Teachers’ Association, and also served as Director of Culture in the Ministry of Education and Culture for many years. In his own words, “[E]ducation through art should be given the greatest attention if more complete individuals are to be produced by educational institutions.” Alladin was also a gifted author who produced some notable research papers on Trinidad’s local culture. His written work is still widely used as reference material on Trinidad’s traditions. As a fine artist, Alladin won renown throughout the Caribbean, Latin America, the United States, and Europe, exhibiting in two group shows at the Organization of American States. Most importantly, he was an advocate for the inclusion of both Trinidadian and Indian themes in the work of local artists, at a time when most painters were trained to favor Western or European traditional subject matter. Stylistically, Alladin’s works treat Trinidadian and Indian subjects with a modernist approach. The subjects of M.P. Alladin’s work range from rural scenes depicting the daily life of Trinidadian farmers in the 1970s to urban landscapes of the island; from Hindu festivities—such as the New Year celebration known as Phagwa, a favorite subject of Alladin’s, which reveals the importance of his Indian heritage to his oeuvre—to more experimental scenes, such as his acrylic on canvas from 1973. The latter work integrates figurative motifs of the island through the use of a palette inspired by its geography, juxtaposing black and red-toned palm fronds over a background that uses the same technique, layering fronds in shades of blue, yellow, and purple. In this way, Alladin combines an organic pattern with a geometric one (a grid). Alladin’s work in the 1970s focused extensively on the exploration of these contrasting patterns. was shown for the first time at the Organization of American States in 1973 in the exhibition and was acquired for the Organization’s permanent collection in 1976. The Palms The Palms Tribute to Picasso Tribute to Picasso | Homenaje a Picasso OAS exhibition brochure, 1973 Archives of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas 1/2 back to collection

  • Hiroyuki Okumura | Cultural Encounters

    Hiroyuki Okumura (Japan, b. 1963) Hiroyuki Okumura was born in Kanazawa, Japan, in 1963, and earned his master’s degree at the School of Fine Arts, Kanazawa. In 1989 he relocated to Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, thanks to the influence of his mentor Kiyoshi Takahashi, whose fascination with Mexican pre-Columbian art was sparked in 1955, when an exhibition of more than a thousand artworks came to Tokyo’s National Museum. In 1958, Takahashi began his frequent visits to Xalapa, which deeply influenced his artistic production. Takahashi passed this enthusiasm on to Okumura, who, at his urging, soon settled in Mexico and was similarly inspired by its extraordinary artworks and culture. Okumura’s sculptures have always been shaped to some degree by the raw materials that have been at his disposal in (respectively) Japan and Mexico. Although he experimented with stone in Japan, he primarily worked with wood, which has been that country’s main construction material for centuries. Once in Mexico, however, Okumura was able to transition to what is now his preferred medium—stone—including volcanic rocks, marble, and river rocks. Stone has long been Mexico’s primary construction material, used most famously by the pre-Columbians for their large-scale pyramids as well as for their sculptures and artisanal objects. One of the qualities of stone that Okumura most values is its timelessness: it is always, he says, “silent and stable.” It is perhaps this—as well as its virtuosity and intensity—that Okumura most admires about Mexican pre-Columbian work. In his large-format architectonic sculptures, as well as in his medium- and small-sized work, Okumura draws inspiration from his Japanese background, while also availing himself of the Mexican spontaneity he so reveres. Okumura is a founding member of the Jardín de Escultural de Xalapa. His public works can be seen in Japan, Mexico, Bulgaria, and France, and he has been widely exhibited in the United States, Mexico, Japan, and France. back to collection

  • Acknowledgements | Cultural Encounters

    aCknowledgements The (OAS) and (IA&A) acknowledge all of the artists who are part of . We are grateful to the artists and their families who opened their homes and studios to us as we were developing the exhibition. AMA | Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States International Arts & Artists Cultural Encounters A heartfelt thank you to the exhibition’s advisory committee: Brian Dursum, Michele Greet, Andil Gosine, Evelyn Hu-DeHart, and Naomi Moniz. We appreciate the expertise of the scholars who assisted us with research and writing, notably Grace Aneiza Ali, Mariola Alvarez, Alejandro Anreus, Roberto Cobas, Christopher Cozier, Alexandra Chan, Miho Hagino, Olga Herrera, Natalie Hopkinson, Ely Sayemi Iutaka, O’Neil Lawrence, Shira Loev Eller, Monique W. NouhChaia SookdewSing, and Michico Okano. AMA and IA&A also thank the institutions that opened their doors to us in order to conduct research, including Asociación Peruano Japonesa, Instituto Wifredo Lam, Museu Histórico da Imigração Japonesa no Brasil, and Museo de Bellas Artes de la Habana. We would like to thank those institutions that so generously loaned artworks for the exhibition: Arróniz Arte Contemporáneo SA de CV, Blanton Museum of Art, Cernuda Arte, Inter-American Development Bank, Mexican Cultural Institute, National Gallery of Jamaica, and Readytex Art Gallery. We are indebted to the fine essayists—Mariola Alvarez, Andil Gosine, and Evelyn Hu-DeHart—who contributed their copious knowledge and talents to the catalogue. Cultural Encounters We also wish to thank the volunteers who helped us realize this project, especially Leilani Campbell, Suzanne Feld, and Rosina Porto. We are deeply appreciative of the financial support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation; without their shared vision and early commitment to the project, it would not have been possible to realize an exhibition of this breadth and scope. Last but certainly not least, we would like to extend our thanks to our colleagues at AMA and IA&A, whose tireless work has made this project possible. ​ ​ Many thanks to all the artists in the exhibition: ​ Luis Nishizawa Tomie Ohtake Hiroyuki Okumura* Kiyoto Ota* Bernadette Persaud* Sunil Puljhun Sonnylal Rambissoon Dhiradj Ramsamoedj* Samuel Rumaldo Choy* Carlos Runcie Tanaka* Andrea Saito* Kazuya Sakai Venancio Shinki Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi Eduardo Tokeshi* Rene Tosari Yutaka Toyota Kazuo Wakabayashi Katarina Wong* M.P. Alladin Reinier Asmoredjo Kereina Chang Fatt Margaret Chen Albert Chong* Manuel Choy Loo Laura Fong Prosper* Tikashi Fukushima Richard Fung* Hisae Ikenaga Soeki Irodikromo Sri Irodikromo Arturo Kubotta Wifredo Lam Manabu Mabe Suchitra Mattai* Cisco Merel Choy Rosendo Merel Choy Wendy Nanan* Denotes artists that are also lenders to the exhibition. * ​ ​ Website Design by Rosina Porto Text by Adriana Ospina and Shira Loev Eller ​

  • Kiyoto Ota | Cultural Encounters

    Kiyoto Ota (Japan, b. 1948) Kiyoto Ota was born in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. He began his artistic studies in Tokyo at the age of nineteen, moving to Mexico in 1972 at the age of twenty-three to study at the Escuela de Nacional de Pintura y Escultura (La Esmeralda), followed by studies at the Centro de Investigación y Experimentación Plastica in 1977; both institutions are part of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA). Ota obtained his master’s degree in sculpture at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas at UNAM in 1999. ​ Ota has lived in Mexico for more than 40 years; nevertheless, he still considers himself a Japanese artist, and his sculptures and large-scale installations embody the essence of his Japanese heritage. The artist explains that he is not consciously thinking about his heritage while working, but that these elements simply appear. He believes that perhaps his “intuition is Japanese.” ​ In his compositions, Ota favors materials such as stone, paper, iron, and wood. Always minimalist, his pieces are charged with personal meaning, often alluding to private experiences and reflections. His wooden work addresses the relationship between space-and-place and space-and-privacy; some of these structures recreate the shape of the uterus, while others are houses that allow the viewer to experiment with sensorial experiences. His iron work is created conceptually, using metal as a catalyst of energy. ​ Ota moved to Mexico in search of a new experience—an exchange of ideas different from that available to friends of his who traveled to Paris or New York for inspiration. Mexico has given the artist the freedom to follow his own, dynamically innovative path. ​ Ota has exhibited extensively around the world. Notably, he contributed work to the extraordinary group exhibition (2011) at the Museo Universitario de Chopo, which included a diverse group of Japanese artists living in Mexico, as well as Mexican artists descended from Japanese families. He also participated in Getty’s exhibition, in 2017. Crystal Jungle Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of the Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City and São Paulo back to collection

  • Carlos Runcie Tanaka | Cultural Encounters

    Carlos Runcie Tanaka (Peru, b. 1958) Carlos Runcie Tanaka is of Japanese, English, and Peruvian descent. His maternal grandfather, Guillermo Shinichi Tanaka, emigrated from Japan in the 1920s, but died young, never meeting his grandson. Tanaka’s grandmother, however, sought to preserve her late husband’s heritage by instilling in her family a reverence for Japanese culture. Tanaka studied Japanese as a child, and during his youth began to explore ceramics as an art form, inspired by the work of British artist Bernard Leach and the Japanese artist Shoji Hamada. Between 1979 and 1980, Tanaka studied in Japan, in the villages of Ogaya and Mashiko—both renowned for their traditional Japanese utilitarian pottery—as a deshi (ceramist apprentice) under the artists Tsukima Masahiko and Tatsuzo Shimaoka. Upon returning to Peru, he acquired a new appreciation for his native country’s deserts, coasts, and mountains, and began to incorporate their evocative qualities into his work. In the early 1980s, he traveled to the southern Andes to learn from the potters of the town of Izcuchaca, and in 1982 studied advanced ceramics in Italy through a grant from the Organization of American States and the Italian Government. In 1989, Tanaka exhibited his work for the first time at the Art Museum of the Americas. Tanaka’s innovative sculpture integrates traditional pottery methods with geological elements and an interethnic universal symbolism. It responds to—but does not limit itself to—traditional Peruvian, Japanese, and European aesthetics. In addition to his ceramic work, Tanaka has also developed a series of installations incorporating paper, video, and glass. In 1994, Tanaka began a series of installations based on concepts of memory, journey, and displacement. Using crabs constructed from origami, ceramic, and glass as metaphors for the Japanese immigrant experience, Tanaka linked his sculptural work to the legacy of the Japanese grandfather he never knew. The idea of using the crab as a migratory symbol came to him after seeing, at the Cerro Azul beach in Peru, a monument to Japanese immigrants that was surrounded by dead crabs. In the early 2000s, after experiencing a heart issue, he went on to produce a major paper installation entitled , and continues to be prolific in his pottery work as well. Into White/Hacia el Blanco Parallel Propositions | Works in Clay. OAS exhibition brochure, 1989 Archives of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas 1/2 back to collection