RIO DE JANEIRO – Tomie Ohtake, the celebrated Japanese-Brazilian artist known for her bold, primary colored abstract paintings and gravity-defying monumental sculptures, has died, the institute bearing her name said. She was 101.
In a statement, the Tomie Ohtake Institute said the artist died Thursday at a Sao Paulo hospital from septic shock brought on by pneumonia.
Renowned for her oversized paintings and airy, cleverly balanced sculptures, Ohtake was considered among Brazil’s most important contemporary artists.
A statement of condolence from Rio de Janeiro state’s culture secretary said, “we have lost one of the most meaningful names in abstractionism in the country and in the world.
“Tomie was an artist who beautifully brought together cultures, colors and geometry, mixing the red of Japan with the yellow of her adopted country,” said the statement.
Born in Kyoto in 1913, Ohtake came to Brazil in 1936 to visit a relative. In the uncertainty that preceded World War II, she decided to stay on in Sao Paulo, marrying and having two children.
In her late 30s, her children largely grown, Ohtake began to paint. After an early career focusing on figurative subjects, she found fame with abstract paintings in an eye-popping palette. Her large-scale sculptures of curves and curlicues also became fixtures of the cityscape in Sao Paulo and other Brazilian cities.
Her most emblematic work includes a series of mosaic murals in shades of her hallmark colors — red, yellow and green — that adorn the Consolacao stop of Sao Paulo’s metro. Another famous work, wave-shaped sculptures that resemble a row of oversized ribbons, sits in a median dividing a major Sao Paulo thoroughfare.
Ohtake worked till the end of her life, going to her studio three times a week until well after her centenary.
A wake was to be held in Sao Paulo on Friday, the statement said.