Floating Realities: The Art of Dr. Masami Teraoka at The Begovich Gallery at California State University Fullerton
By Sara Fortson
Through March 2nd
The Begovich Gallery at California State University Fullerton has held some of the most varied art exhibitions in Southern California. In recent years, the Begovich has exhibited the works of F. Scott Hess, an extensive collection from the Thanatos Archive of Victorian Post Mortem photography, and the animation of Nickelodeon Studios. The current exhibition on display, entitled “Floating Realities: The Art of Dr. Masami Teraoka” is no exception.
Dr. Teraoka paints provocative and sometimes erotic works in the classic Japanese Ukiyo-E style. His works feature subjects such as Globalization, the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, the controversies in the Catholic Church, and most recently, the girls from Pussy Riot. Dr. Teraoka is clearly no stranger to controversy, but his current exhibition at the Begovich is fairly tame, maybe unsurprisingly. The gallery is of course on a University campus, but Mike McGee, the Begovich Gallery director, is not afraid to push the envelope. The exhibition “Beyond the Dark Veil” shown in 2013 and curated by Begovich Assistant Director, Jacqueline Bunge, was perhaps the most controversial exhibition in recent years, but “Floating Realities” may challenge that. “Beyond the Dark Veil” featured an extensive collection of post mortem photographs, which included children and victims of gruesome murders, but the sexual nature of some of Dr. Teraoka’s paintings are provocative and shocking in a different way.
The gallery filled with Dr. Teraoka’s paintings is stunning. There are several large-scale paintings that are monumental when seen in context of the space. Lining the walls throughout one section of the gallery are display cases, which feature some of Dr. Teraoka’s more erotic and more graphic works. There is a real feeling of intimacy when one has to approach the case and observe for several seconds before realizing what is shown. This is, of course, still in keeping with traditional Japanese artwork. The Shunga style of Japanese woodblock prints was erotic in nature and would feel right at home amongst Dr. Teraoka’s work.
The works do lean politically and religious in some instances, which is relevant to contemporary issues. The works featuring the Pussy Riot girls comments on abuses of power and religious oppression whereas the works featuring McDonalds and branding comment on Globalization and erasing culture. It is important to view these works in the University setting, since the arts and education in this country are in danger of losing so much of their funding. Showing artwork of a political nature on a university campus is a big statement, though maybe not intentionally as big of a statement as is perceived.
Dr. Teraoka is exceptionally talented and intensely insightful. These works are a visual breath of fresh air and the space is arranged spectacularly to show the range of Dr. Teraoka’s works spanning the majority of his career.
The exhibition is co-curated by Begovich Gallery Director Mike McGee, and Amena El-Mekhgiange.
The Begovich Gallery will display Floating Realities: The Art of Dr. Masami Teraoka until March 2nd.
The Begovich Gallery is located at 800 N State College Blvd (Arts Drive). Fullerton, CA 92834.