Untitled (Red Awakening), 1964


Tiger Tateishi: Enchanted by Disney cartoons and American movies in his youth, Tiger Tateishi was later drawn to Mad Magazine and stories by science fiction authors, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Sheckley.  He began his art career in 1963, producing “Pop Art” paintings from a Japanese point of view, colliding Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji, Godzilla, and Samurai together with international icons such as Mao Tse Tung, an atomic mushroom cloud, MAD Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman, Coca-Cola, the American Western landscape and KKK processions. To parody the tourism initiatives of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, Tateishi founded The Institute of Tourist Art (1964-66), creating works which operated off the Mt. Fuji as beloved national symbol and tourism moneymaker.  His first solo exhibition of the same year was titled Accumulated Civilization, an idea which echoes through his oeuvre.


With the desire to draw “nonsense cartoons”, then unpopular in Japan, Tateishi and his wife Fumiko left for Milan in 1969, drawn to the city of Futurism. Notably, their move was concurrent with other new frontiers felt globally; Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and the Apollo 11 first moon landing.  As a consummate absorber of his surroundings, Tateishi met Giorgio de Chirico (whose perspectival style he had appropriated earlier in 1964) and merged de Chirico-style images into a new storyboard sequencing in his paintings. This format, usually only seen in comics, proved ideal for making paintings of Sci-Fi narratives.  An employee of Ettore Sottsass’s saw these works and introduced the architect/designer to Tateishi and an extraordinary group of drawings were produced setting Sottsass’s early proposals for fantastical and erotic architectural forms in outer space terrains.  While attributed to Sottsass, these works are often signed “Tiger pinxit”, Latin for “Tiger painted it”. Tateishi also started making silkscreen prints from the early 1970s in Milan, a selection of which are on view.  These works, and Rotating Fuji incorporate the story-board format which Tateishi continued to utilize in paintings, drawings and artist’s books throughout his career.


Tiger (Kōichi) Tateishi was born in 1941, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. He passed away in 1998. He received a degree from Musashino University Junior College of Art and Design in 1963. Tateishi’s vast oeuvre includes oil painting, prints, comics, illustration, children’s books, and ceramics. Since 1963, the artist has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in Japan, Europe, and the United States. After his death, two retrospectives were organized: Tiger Tateishi: The Endless Tiger at Tagawa City Art Museum, 1999 and Metamorphose Tiger: Walking through the Labyrinth with Tiger Tateishi, O Museum,1999 (cat.). Tateishi was featured in a two-artist shows, The World is Strange! The Manga and painting of Tiger Tateishi and Yuichi Yokoyama, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, 2017. Recent group exhibitions include Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant Garde, 2012; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Japanorama: A New Vision on Art Since 1970,Centre Pompidou-Metz, 2018. A touring Tateishi survey exhibition is planned for 2020/2021 appearing at Chiba City Museum of Art, Aomori Museum of Art, Takamatasu Art Museum and The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama.