This exhibit catalogue accompanied the largest one-artist show ever of the surreal photo collages of Toshiko Okanoue at Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum in 2019.
Now 92, Okanoue burst onto the art scene in the 1950s when her work came to the attention of Shuzo Takiguchi, a leading figure in Japan’s Surrealism movement. Using images cut from imported magazines including Vogue and LIFE, she explored themes of war, femininity and relations between the sexes.
In post-war Japan, a shortage of goods and materials meant the country was flooded with commodities from foreign countries. Okanoue used fragments from Western fashion magazines such as Life, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, to create radical compositions combining body parts, animals and inanimate objects in dynamic arrangements.
Although the component parts of her collages originated from Western sources, Okanoue herself regarded her technique of image making as deeply rooted in Japanese tradition. She thought of her works as a form of hari-e (‘hari’ meaning pasting and ‘e’ meaning a picture in Japanese), a traditional Japanese technique of making pictures by pasting small pieces of coloured paper onto pasteboard.