Abe Ten-ei

One of the stops E. and I took during our Golden Week holiday was the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art.

There was a special exhibit of the very varied works of one Abe Ten-ei, the most adorably handsome old man in all of Japan.

We were taking pictures of really frustratingly shiny copper bottles and suddenly I hear, “どこの出身 [Where are you from]?” and “芸術家です [I am the artist].”


I haven’t been able to find anything on him in English, so I’ll type up the good bits of his introduction at the museum.

Born in Sapporro in 1939, Ten-ei Abe devoted himself to studying art on his own during his high school years. At the age of 21 and 22, he entered abstract paintings in a national level painting contest and received awards. After that, he made the transition from paintings to reliefs and then to three-dimensional works, including objects, sculptures, and installations. His travels on the road of creation, which span more than half a century, are heavily infused in the avant-garde spirit, interweaving with the most advanced innovations of the times. But the wellspring of his approach to art actually dates back to his childhood years … [when he was] immersed in the hard work that [his] household needed to survive. It was there that the severe conditions of nature revealed their bountiful pleasures in ways he would never forget. The creatures of the sea that were constant companions in those days were to become one of Abe’s richest wellsprings of imagery, continuing to inspire him even now.

He kind of kept an eye out for us and tried to explain everything we were standing near since there wasn’t much English signage. What a sweet man. And he even let people take pictures of his work so bravo.

I cannot do these things justice. They were hyper-polished globs of molten metal.

Love his signature.

A wall of lovely brides, off to their wedding ceremony.

My favorite little bride.

He made a cute zodiac series for some children’s book. Look at those tiny glasses.

Just as we were leaving, we saw Mr. Abe again and I asked him why he used so many different media instead of focusing on one. He replied something along the lines of, “A painter uses colors like yellow and green on his easel. Well, silver and wood and clay are my colors.”


One thought on “Abe Ten-ei

  1. Pingback: What To Do and NOT Do In Hokkaido | joopinks

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