Mitsuko Tabe was born in Taiwan in 1933. While in her twenties, she studied art privately and developed a strong interest in avant-garde art, joining several others in the founding of the Kyushu-Ha School, an avant-garde movement in Japan that later spread to San Francisco. With this group, Tabe began more actively exploring contemporary issues such as gender, sexuality, and identity in Japan’s rapidly changing culture through her painting and performance.
Since the dissolution of the Kyushu-Ha School in the early 1970s, Tabe has explored her own development of style and media and has also sought to involve the Fukuoka community in art. Tabe was instrumental in organizing the Kyushu Female Artists Exhibition
from 1974 to 1984 and became the first woman Executive Director of Integrated National Art Fukuoka. From 1995 until 1997, Tabe also served as the Director of the Fukuoka City Art League and organized regional exhibitions.
Tabe’s paintings, often large constructions with collaged images ranging from floral motifs that recall traditional Japanese screen painting to images from modern media culture, are often combined with sculptural elements, as in her Apple
series. In her more recent Sign Language
series, Tabe explores the silent communication of cast plaster hands in various positions of Japanese Sign Language, suggesting that although silent, they are endowed with power.
Tabe, also an art historian, has written several books on women artists. She continues to be recognized for having played an important role in the development of post-World War II art in Japan, and has been called Japan’s “Woman Picasso.”
collaborated with Takami Sukurai
collaborated with Ochi Osamu
collaborated with Mokuma Kikiuhata
First Prize, Twenty-fifth Fukuoka City Cultural Award, Fukuoka City, Japan (2000)
Gold Prize, Third Nishi-Nippon Painting Exhibition, Fukuoka City, Japan (1960)
First Prize, Iwataya and Asahi Shimbun Award, Fukuoka City, Japan (1958)