Full of Life
Full of Life
photo collage
date created:
height 238mm x width 249mm — height 9.37inch x width 9.80inch


Toshiko Okanoue (b. 1928, Kochi) started making photo collages while she was studying fashion drawing in 1950. At the time she knew little about the history of art, including surrealism. She regarded her technique of making pictures as a form of ‘hari-e’ (‘hari’ meaning pasting and ‘e’ means a picture in Japanese), a traditional Japanese technique of making pictures by pasting small pieces of coloured paper on pasteboard. In 1952 after meeting the poet Shuzo Takiguchi her vision broadened dramatically. Takiguchi was a leading figure of the surrealist movement in Japan and organiser of Jikken Kobo (‘Experimental Workshop’), an avant-garde artists’ group. Impressed by the quality of her collage works, he introduced Okanoue to the works of Max Ernst, whose approach had a decisive influence on her. During the next six years she created over 100 works. Takiguchi recommended her works to the Gallery Takemiya in Tokyo. She held her solo shows twice at this gallery in 1953 and 1956, but marriage in 1957 ended her career, which happened to many Japanese women in that era. In 1967 she returned to her home town of Kochi and has lived there ever since. Ryuichi Kaneko, the curator of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, rediscovered her and her works. Her works have gained recognition for their importance to postwar photography and the surrealist movement in Japan. Her works have been highly acclaimed since the late 1990s and collected by such public institutions as The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Her two monographs, Drop of Dreams (2002) and the portfolio The Miracle of Silence (2007) were published by Nazraeli press.

(Source: Mika Kobayashi, ‘Toshiko Okanoue: The Miracle of Silence’ in FOAM Magazine # 15/construct, pp 107-110)

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