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Tomie Ohtake, the Great Dame of Brazilian Art, Dies Aged 101

02/13/2015 - 09h28

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SILAS MARTÍ
FROM SÃO PAULO

Brazilian-Japanese artist Tomie Ohtake has died. She had been admitted to hospital a week ago due to pneumonia, in São Paulo.

She was one of the most relevant characters in Brazil's art history, and was known as the dame of national painting. She was 101 years old.

She was caught somewhere between a gesture and geometry.

She has created - throughout six decades - a unique vocabulary, based on the relationship between color and form.

Ohtake stood out on the country's scene in the 1960's, by setting out on an independent pathway at the same time as abstract geometry reached its climax.

Ms Ohtake, who was born in Kyoto, Japan, moved to São Paulo in 1936.

She started painting in the 1950's, when she followed the figurative strand in vogue amongst immigrant artists who tried to break away from the rigour of academic art, even though it stayed true to classic genres of painting.

Ms Ohtake's sculptures also stood out. She created monumental forms, which in many aspects recall the fluid trace of Japanese calligraphy.

Her work includes fundamental landscapes of the urban geography of São Paulo, such as a quintessential block in the Anhangabaú neighborhood, Consolação metro station and the entrance to São Paulo's international airport.

In the last years of her life, Tomie carried on working.

"I never thought I'd live to 100, but I got to this age before I could tell", she said two years ago. "All I know is that I love working and I am happy when I paint."

In addition to Ruy, Ms Ohtake is survived by her son Ricardo Ohtake, director of the cultural center named after her and two grandchildren.

Translated by CRISTIANE COSTA LIMA

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