Art Exhibition



January 11 - February 6, 2018



Meet the Artist Opening Reception
Thursday, January 11, 2018 5-8pm

The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles
(5700 Wilshire Blvd., #100 Los Angeles, CA 90036)

Street parking is available near JFLA. Click here for parking info.


Exhibition Hours:
Monday-Friday 12pm-7pm
Saturdays 12pm-5pm
Closed on Sundays, Monday, Jan. 15, Jan. 22 and Saturday, Feb. 3


Nobuo Anzai’s paintings are heartfelt memories of countries he calls homes— Brazil, Colombia, Spain and Japan. They are unseparated in his mind and heart through his life’s passages as a migrant worker, farmer, chef and artist. The Fukushima born Anzai spent his childhood during the upheaval years of the Pacific War. At age 23, he emigrated to Brazil to serve two years in agricultural farming as part of a contract with the Japanese and Brazilian government. Upon completing this obligation, he trained to become a sushi chef and opened his first shop in São Paulo. A natural and adventurous journeyman at heart, Anzai would spend the next four decades migrating to Colombia, Spain and Los Angeles, California. His chosen path is in part life’s necessity for survival and at spiritual depths, a yearning for connecting to these native countries.

Painting has always been a familiar and comfortable means for expression. "The energy that wells up from my heart is what my art is all about…the time of day, the place I'm standing at, and the encounter with nature and people of the land…all spiritual ties in this universe". Anzai’s fond memories of these distant lands finds new homes in his paintings. These painted memories have no separation nor borders in its depiction. Rather, they are lyrical in its representation—an homage on several levels of fantasies that naturally combine symbology and essence of the different cultures that he’s integrated into his soulful universe. Although he has had trained as a child artist, the majority of his mature work is self taught and influenced by the folk art of the locales. The seamless expression does not leave out his occupation as a food preparer either. Vegetables, fruits, animals, canned goods, grains, insects, season and the people all play an equal part in the picture, celebrating life’s many events. The symbology is rich in meaning, the image treatment is rule-free, surreal and vibrant in living colors. The folk narrative crosses borders,  transforming the scenery into dreamscapes.

Having settled in Los Angeles since 1989, Nobuo Anzai and his partner wife, Mihoko has been running “Tempura House” a well known bento shop in the Little Osaka community ofWest Los Angeles since 1989. He tends his modest shop religiously from early dawn to mid-afternoon to hold the door open for the busy late lunch clientele. In recent years, he has developed a series of coffee pigment paintings of still lives and landscapes of his current community.

“Migrating Dreamscapes” is a survey of Nobuo Anzai's works selected from the series; “Brazil,” “Colombia,” "Madrid,” and "Childhood Memories". The show runs from January 11 to February 6, 2018. An artist reception will be held on January 11th from 5 to 8pm and a workshop of still life coffee painting will  be open for public participation (limited seating) on Tuesday, January 30th.

— Kio Griffith, curator

Artist’s statement


What is a painting? – It’s a painted testimonial of a personal expression documenting the depth and movement of the heart and soul.  What is nostalgia? – It is the beating heart resonating from memories of the homeland. We walk our lives’ paths in joy, sorrow, anxiety, pain and continue to strive in happiness—this is the blessing of a beautiful life.  

In the late months of my 23rd birth year, I boarded an immigration ship headed for Brazil to embark on a new life in South America. For the next four decades I pursued my life’s journey to Bogota, Colombia, Los Angeles, United States and Madrid, Spain. I am now 82 years and 10 months old and have settled down in Los Angeles.

These memories from over half a century, find its places through brushworks into my paintings. The act of painting is a continuous relay of expression and affirmation in basically three parts; a search for identity, an internal dialogue, and a personal battle. By sensing the momentary changes of the heart and choosing pictorial elements,  this perpetual labor in silence constitutes an improvement in skills and a purification of the soul. It doesn’t matter how good you are. If you stay honest in your endeavors, the universe of creativity will shed light on the effort. The artist needs solitude to be creative.

I am looking forward very much to hear everybody’s thoughts about this series of works.


Nobuo Anzai