Tomie Ohtake Institute, opened since 28 November 2001, is one of the few spaces in São Paulo to have been designed with the specific purpose of staging national and international art, architecture and design exhibitions.
Honoring the artist it was named after, the Institute is home to exhibitions that shine a light on artistic developments over the past six decades, as well as on earlier artistic movements that contribute to a better understanding of the period in which Tomie Ohtake lived and worked. Since opening its doors to the public, the Institute has staged shows previously unheard of in Brazil, including Louise Bourgeois, Josef Albers, Yayoi Kusama, Salvador Dalí, and Joan Miró, among others.
As well as its trailblazing exhibition program – amplified through a parallel program of debates, research, content production, archival work and publications – Instituto Tomie Ohtake has, since its founding, conducted significant research on approaches to teaching contemporary art. This is manifested in pioneering new training methods for teachers and students in public and private schools, a program of events open to all, and projects designed to encourage new generations of artists to develop and thrive.
Tomie Ohtake was born in Kyoto, Japan, on November 21, 1913, where she studied. In 1936 she arrived in Brazil to visit one of her five brothers. Prevented from returning, due to the beginning of the Pacific War, she ended up staying in the country. He married, raised his two children, and when she was almost 40 years old she started to paint encouraged by the Japanese artist Keiya Sugano.
His career reached full effervescence from the age of 50, when she held individual shows and won awards in most Brazilian salons. In her extensive career, he participated in 20 International Biennials (six from São Paulo, one of which received the Itamaraty Award, Venice Biennale, Tokyo, Havana, Cuenca, among others), and has more than 120 individual exhibitions in his curriculum (in São Paulo). Paulo and twenty other Brazilian capitals, New York, Washington DC, Miami, Tokyo, Rome, Milan, etc.) and almost four hundred collective shows, between Brazil and abroad, in addition to 28 awards.
Tomie’s work stands out in both painting and printmaking as well as sculpture. His production also marks the more than 30 public works designed in the landscape of several Brazilian cities such as São Paulo (Av. 23 de Maio, 1988; Anhangabaú, 1984; Cidade Universitária, 1994, 1997 and 1999; Ibirapuera Auditorium, 2004; Memorial Auditorium from Latin America, 1988; Pedro II Theater in Ribeirão Preto, 1996; among others), Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Brasília, Araxá and Ipatinga, a rare feat for an artist in Brazil. Between 2009 and 2010, her sculptures also reached the gardens of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo and Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. In 2012, she was also invited by the Mori Museum in Tokyo to produce a public work that is located in the garden of the building.
Always ready for new challenges, Tomie took her art to other fronts. He created two sets for the opera Madame Butterfly, the first in 1983, at the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, and the second in 2008, at the Municipal Theater of São Paulo. She was also invited to create works for awards and celebrations, such as on the occasion of the centenary of Japanese immigration, in 2008, when she conceived the monumental sculpture in Santos and that of Guarulhos International Airport. Small pieces, such as the trophy of the São Paulo International Film Festival, the award tribute to Formula 1, using the pre-salt stone (2011), posters, book and periodical illustrations, medals and objects for laureates many events are part of his diverse production.
About her work, two books, twenty catalogs and eight films / videos were published, including the one made by filmmaker Walter Salles Jr. In São Paulo, she gives his name to a vibrant cultural center, the Tomie Ohtake Institute. In celebration of her 97th birthday, the Institute exhibited around 25 large-scale paintings investigating the circle, produced in 2010.
With her recognition, Tomie became a kind of ambassador for arts and culture in Brazil. Thus, throughout her life she was always invited to receive great international personalities, such as Queen Elizabeth, Emperor, Empress and Prince of Japan, dancer Kazuo Ohno, choreographer Pina Bausch, artist Yoko Ono, writer José Saramago, director Robert Wilson, among many others.
In 2012, in addition to the public work for Tokyo, she created a series of blue paintings, in which, once again, her interest in renewing himself by inventing a new brush stroke – the brush stroke as a form, without the canvas losing its movement and depth characteristic of its production.
In 2013 Tomie Ohtake reached the age of 100, celebrated with 17 exhibitions in Brazil, especially those from the Institute that bears his name: Gesture and Geometric Reason, curated by Paulo Herkenhoff in the month in which she turned 100 (November), Tomie Ohtake Correspondences and Influx of Forms, both curated by Agnaldo Farias and Paulo Miyada, held in February and August, respectively.
In December 2014, filmmaker Tizuka Yamasaki released the documentary Tomie, which portrays the artist’s universe with affection and delicacy, mixing intimate moments with critical testimonies by Paulo Herkenhoff, Agnaldo Farias and Miguel Chaia. From 100 to 101 years old she conceived about 30 paintings. Until his death in February 2015, at the age of 101, she continued to work.
In 2000, the Tomie Ohtake Institute project was launched in the city of São Paulo and its inauguration took place in 2001. It was installed in a complex called Ohtake Cultural, which has a center conventions, two office buildings and a cultural center joined by a Great Hall of services. With the help of Grupo Aché, it was possible to construct the building, which was designed by Ruy Ohtake.
Both the architectural project and the name of the institution are a tribute to the renowned artist Tomie Ohtake, who has enormous recognition and importance in Brazilian art.
One of the main ideas of the project was to bring together in a single space a range of services (culture, leisure and work), in an integrated manner, and to propose the dissemination of art knowledge based on national and international trends, in addition to presenting the art of the last 50 years, corresponding to Tomie’s performance time.
Currently, the Institute’s general director is Ricardo Ohtake, Tomie’s son. He has a degree in architecture and is also a graphic designer. He has also curated exhibitions at different institutions, such as: V São Paulo International Architecture and Design Biennial in 2003.
The space presented calls itself the Institute, an art building and not a museum, as it is not a temporary place of passage and not a collection. The works of art themselves define the shape of the exhibition space. In addition, he defines himself as ” Independent from governmental spheres, occupying an Aché Lab venture, lent on loan for 30 years” and makes use of the cultural incentive laws to fund his projects.
Culture and Participation Center
The Tomie Ohtake Institute aims to bring the public closer to the concepts of expressiveness of contemporary times. For this, it offers several courses and workshops, in addition to guided tours and debates making art more accessible, and creating recipients and creators.
The architectural project corresponding to Ohtake Cultural, which the Instituto Tomie Ohtake is part of, had investments from the Aché group and won a prize at the IX Buenos Aires Architecture Biennial in 2001.
The cultural space followed the trends of architectural projects from around the world, characterized by mixing work and leisure.
The institute’s structure consists of four studio rooms, seven exhibition rooms, a seminar room, a documentation room, integrated by a Grand Hall with restaurant, a bookstore, a café and an object store. Its area is 7,500 m², which includes all exhibitions, lectures, workshops, among other accommodations.
Architecture Award Instituto Tomie Ohtake AkzoNobel
Together with AkzoNobel, the Instituto Tomie Ohtake rewards projects by architects up to 45 years old who have completed their works in the last 10 years. The aim of the work is to encourage the fields of architecture, designer, visual arts and urbanism, valuing innovative ways of building and thinking about social space.
The Tomie Ohtake Institute does not have its own collection, but it had several important exhibitions that marked its history.
2003 The Recent Trajectory of Brazilian Art
2003 Tomie Ohtake in the Spiritual Plot of Art
2003 Vilanova Artigas
2005 Kamekura: the Graphics, Japan, the Poster
2005 Arena Account Arena
2006 Action and Thinking, 6 Exhibitions with teacher training and group of students
2007 Half Century of Brazilian Art
2008 Laços do Olhar, Roadmap between Brazil and Japan
2008 Sejima and Nishizawa, Saana
2011 Blind Paintings, Tomie Ohtake
2011 Anonymous and Artists, from Typographic Crafts to Graphic Design
2012 Stubbornness of the Imagination, together with the Brazilian People’s Imaginary Institute
2012 A Look at Brazil, Photography in the Construction of the Nation’s Image
2012 Thom Mayne
2013 Gesture and Geometric Reason, Tomie Ohtake
2014 Mixed-Race Stories
2014 Salvador Dali
2015 Frida Kahlo – Connections between surrealist women in Mexico
2015 We between the extremes, art and science
2016 Learning from Dorival Caymmi: Praieira Culture
2016 Picasso : Scholarly Hand, Wild Eye
2016 The Many and the One: Contemporary Brazilian Art in the Adrea and José Olympio Pereira Collection
2017 Yoko Ono : The Sky Is Still Blue, You Know …
2018 Afro-Atlantic Stories
2018 AI-5 50 years old – Not finished yet