The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles
(5700 Wilshire Blvd., #100 Los Angeles, CA 90036)
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Monday - Saturday 12 pm-6pm
Closed on Sundays

Free admission

In accordance with LA County guidelines, all visitors aged 2 and older will be required to wear face masks.

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 Nobuo 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 governments. 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, Nobuo 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 of 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”. Nobuo’s fond memories of these distant lands find new homes in his paintings. These painted memories have no separation or borders in their depiction. Instead, they are lyrical in their 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 had trained as a child artist, most of his mature work is self-taught and influenced by the locales’ folk art. The seamless expression does not leave out his occupation as a food preparer either. Vegetables, fruits, animals, canned goods, grains, insects, seasons, and the people, all play an equal part in the picture, celebrating life’s many events. The symbology is rich in meaning, and 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 in 1985, Nobuo and his partner and wife, Mihoko, had been running “Sawtelle Tempura House,” a well-known bento shop in the Little Osaka community of West Los Angeles, since 1991. He had tended 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 had developed a series of coffee pigment paintings of his current community’s still lifes and landscapes.

Still Lifes and Folktales is a continuing survey of artist Nobuo Anzai presented by The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles with selected works from his most recent works from “Childhood Memories,” and his coffee paintings. In this edition, we will explore his reenacting of traditions, rituals and festivals of Fukushima’s past, and the contemplative still life paintings made in his own way of life in Los Angeles.This show will be presented in person at The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles’ gallery area in conjunction with the online exhibition, Homage To A Nomadic Storyteller


This exhibition is organized by the Japan Foundation, Los Angeles and curated by Kio Griffith

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the japan foundation, los angeles

5700 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 100
Los Angeles, CA 90036


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