Samuel Freeman is pleased to announce a solo exhibition by Masami Teraoka: The Cloisters Last Supper. This exhibition marks the artist’s 3rd solo exhibition with Samuel Freeman, and the gallery’s inaugural show in its new Culver City location. Monumentally scaled, narrative style triptych paintings from the artist’s ongoing Cloisters Last Supper series will be shown with paintings, drawings and screen prints from Teraoka’s mid-career, Japan-themed works, providing a context for his development across a 40 year career span.
Teraoka's work from the 1960s fused traditional Japanese ukiyo-e iconography with contemporary American culture. Produced during his first years in Los Angeles, these works explored the collision of two contrasting cultures, as in the series McDonald’s Hamburgers Invading Japan. In the late 1980s, as the world grappled with the rise of the AIDS virus, Teraoka incorporated the fears around this new “sexual” disease as his primary subject matter. The resulting AIDS Series, rendered in traditional Japanese style, marked the change from general cultural criticism to pointed, topic-centered work for Teraoka. Several pieces from this series will be included in the exhibition, including the piece AIDS Series/Mother and Child, 1990 (pictured below).
In the mid 1990s Teraoka embarked on an effort to shed light on the rampant abuses of the Catholic Church and to thematically incorporate other prominent public scandals into his work. He adopted the 15th century European language of religious triptychs, rich in both symbolism and narrative specificity, with a blatantly medieval tone surprisingly appropriate to the subject matter. Kenneth Starr, Dick Cheney and Bill Clinton appeared in varying states of disguise, while Tailhook and Lewinsky became scriptural allegories of a conflicted cultural moment. In 2009 Teraoka's series The Cloisters Confessions was exhibited at Samuel Freeman, detailing countless other grotesqueries committed in the name of ‘faith.'
In The Cloisters Last Supper, the narrative takes up “after the sins have been revealed”. These new works deftly weave together exaggerated contemporary references—including priests secretly galavanting in thigh high stockings and pumps—with an arcane and sinister iconography, emphasizing Teraoka’s view of the Catholic Church at a critical crossroads, with any chances at true modernization most likely long-passed. With the ongoing saga of sex abuse scandals, coverups, and out-of-touch moral codes for behavior, in Teraoka’s view the overt contradiction between the liturgy of the Church and the intolerable actions of members of its clergy cries out for critical visual interrogation.
Currently a resident of Hawaii, Masami Teraoka was born in 1936 in Onamichi, Japan. He moved to Los Angeles in his twenties, where he received his BFA and MFA from the Otis Art Institute. Teraoka has had solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian, and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, among others. His work is in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, and many more prominent public and private collections.