Takao Tanabe is among the first wave of prominent Nisei Canadian artists, with a sixty-year painting career that still continues today. Born in Prince Rupert, BC to a fishing family, Tanabe was forcibly relocated away from the coast as a teenager, eventually ending up in Winnipeg, where he began his artistic studies. He went on to study in New York, Europe, and Japan.
While his earlier paintings are considered abstract works, he is best known for his landscape paintings of the coast of British Columbia, where he returned to live in the 1980s, and much of his earlier work can be defined in relation to these landscapes. He has described his artistic vision as the depiction of ‘this completely unoccupied, pristine land, as though I’m the first person to see it. It’s lonely, it’s mysterious, it has wonderful appeal to me. I feel great kinship with it.’ He lives in Parksville, BC.