Alan Itakura

Region: Montreal Quebec
| Born 1945, Kaslo British Columbia


Alan Mitsuru Itakura was born on December 16, 1945 in an internment camp in Kaslo, BC just after the end of World War II. Just months after he was born, his family moved to Hamilton, Ontario where he grew up. After graduating from McMaster University (B.Sc. mathematics), he moved to Tokyo, Japan in 1968 to pursue his judo training but got sidetracked in 1969 when he met Canadian artist-priest, Gaston Petit and began studying woodcut and relief printmaking at the Peti Atelier in Tokyo.

Returning to Canada in 1971, he settled in Montreal and began creating silkscreen prints at the artist-run printmaking studio, Atelier Graphia 3710, while pursuing his BFA studies in art history and studio art at Concordia University. He was an active member of the Quebec Chapter of the NAJC and in 1988 organized, produced and participated in the ‘Eight Artists for Redress’ card project to raise funds for the Japanese Canadian Redress movement.

In 1995, as a member of the Montreal Nikkei Artists Network, an ad hoc collective headed by Heather Yamada*, Baco Ohama* and Renay Egami* – all well-known artists who happened to be living and working in Montreal during that period, he participated in an exhibition of visual and performance art to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. He is very active in Montreal’s Japanese Canadian community and has served on the board of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal for many years (and was its president from 2011-13).

He is also a volunteer for the Montreal Bulletin, a monthly newsletter that has been serving the Japanese Canadian community since 1945. Although he has been artistically inactive in recent years, he is considering a return to some less technically sophisticated printmaking techniques such as woodcut and relief because they are more accepting of and actually celebrate artistic imperfections.

Artist Statement

"Most of my pieces are two-dimensional non-representational works on paper that visually embrace primary colours. Technically I have used a variety of different variants of printmaking including woodcut, relief, silkscreen, digital, monoprinting, photocopying and photography. The conceptual framework leading to the production of many of my works includes notions of randomness and controlled spontaneity. Some of my earlier influences included John Cage, Isamu Noguchi, Haku Maki, Shiko Munakata and Toko Shinoda. Reaching back to my mathematics background, I used computer technology in the early 1980s to generate a series of silkscreen prints in which the position and hue of each colour on a hand-drawn grid was randomly selected. In the 1990s I began to make images digitally but had difficulty getting them printed on high quality Arches paper. In those days, large format printers for artistic quality output were scarce and the cost of proofing and making editions very expensive. I eventually lost interest in digital image making as the new medium became ubiquitous, spawned the rise of reproductions and muddied the definition of an original print. Lately I am more interested in seeing the hints of human imperfection that techniques such as woodcut and relief printmaking allow."