Miyuki Tanobe

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Miyuki Tanobe
Born1937 (age 82–83)
NationalityJapanese, Canadian
Alma materGuédaï University, école des beaux-arts de Tokyo, Japon; Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris, France; École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, Paris
Known forpainting, nihonga
Notable work
The Tin flute by Gabrielle Roy in 1983
Movementnaive art
ElectedMember of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1994; Officer of the National Order of Quebec, 1995; member of the Order of Canada, 2002, medal-holder of the Ordre du Jubilée, 2002
Patron(s)Taru Tanabe, Seison Maeda, Roger Chapelain-Midy

Miyuki Tanobe (born 1937 in Morioka, Japan) is a Japanese-born Canadian painter, based in Montreal, Quebec. Represented by Galerie Jean-Pierre Valentin, she is known for her paintings of the everyday life of Montreal residents.[1] Her work is in the collections of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Musée du Québec, Lavalin, Pratt & Whitney, and Shell Canada, and Selection du Reader’s Digest. She is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

Early life and education[edit]

Tanobe was born in 1937 in Morioka, Japan. Because there was a violent snowstorm raging on the day she was born, her parents named her Miyuki, which means "deep snow". Tanobe attended Japanese primary and secondary schools.

In 1963, possessing incipient artistic gifts, she painted at the studio of La Grande Chaumière in Paris before registering at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, France's leading school of fine arts. Miyuki Tanobe’s arrival in Canada in 1971 came as a result of a chance meeting in Paris with Maurice Savignac, her future husband, a French Canadian from Montreal.[2]


Miyuki Tanobe’s work reflects a freedom of action. She paints principally on rigid supports such as wood or masonite sheets. Her panels are filled with scenes that she has observed [3] like children playing hockey.[4]

Her modern primitive works depict everyday life in the working-class neighborhoods of Montreal with humour and great sensitivity.[5] She transforms "humble and unavoidable reality" by reformulating it, adding or deleting elements depending on her assessment of their contribution to the scene. A painting by Miyuki Tanobe goes to the heart of the matter: the artist is interested in opening the viewers' eyes so that they may better see the familiar and adjust their perceptions of what they think they know.

In 1980 Tanobe illustrates the song "Gens de mon pays" by Gilles Vigneault[6] and in 1983 she creates pictures for The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy.[7] The colours in Miyuki’s paintings are rich and full of contrast. Working with superimposed layers and applying pigments with her pliable, flexible Japanese brush, Miyuki Tanobe succeeds in revealing unexpected aspects of the objects and people she depicts without making them difficult to read.[8] She paints in Nihonga.[9]

Miyuki Tanobe has exhibited her work at Galerie Jean-Pierre Valentin in Montreal since 1972. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has one very large painting by Tanobe, as does the Musée du Québec, the Musée de Joliette and the Saidye Bronfman Museum in Montreal. Her work can be found in corporate collections, including Lavalin, Pratt & Whitney, Shell Canada, and Selection du Reader’s Digest. She is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.[10]

In 2012 a mural was painted for Tanobe in Verdun.[11]


Her work is found in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec[12], Musée de Joliette, Musée Saidye Bronfman, Montréal. Her work is also in the private collections of Lavalin, C. I. L. Montreal, La Laurentienne, Montreal, Pratt & Whitney, Shell Canada, and Reader’s Digest.


In 1979, she was the subject of a National Film Board of Canada documentary short My Floating World: Miyuki Tanobe, directed by Ian Rankin, Stephan Steinhouse and Marc F. Voizard.[13]

  • 2012 : Radio-Canada, Miyuki Tanobe and the mural of Verdun [14]
  • 1987 : Radio-Québec, Le Magazine
  • 1985 : Radio-Québec, Arrimage
  • 1982 : CBC, Seeing It Our Way


  • 1995: Retrospective, Musée Pierre Boucher, Trois-Rivières, Quebec
  • 1993: Retrospective, Japanese Pavillon of Jardin Botanique, Montréal, with the participation of Galerie Jean-Pierre Valentin
  • 1991: Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, with the participation of Galerie Jean-Pierre Valentin
  • 1987: Galerie l’Art Français, Montréal
  • 1987: Délégation du Québec, New York
  • 1983: 10th Anniversary, Délégation du Québec, Tokyo
  • 1983: Galerie l’Art Français, Montréal
  • 1982: Art Expo New York, New York
  • 1982: Galerie l’Art Français
  • 1981: Musée de Joliette, Joliette
  • 1981: Galerie l’Art Français
  • 1980 and 1981: Place des Arts, Montréal
  • 1980: Galerie l’Art Français
  • 1979: Galerie l’Art Français
  • 1978: Galerie l’Art Français
  • 1976: Galerie Marlborough Godard, Toronto
  • 1976 : Galerie Marlborough Godard, Montréal
  • 1974 : Galerie l’Art Français, Montréal
  • 1973: Terre des Hommes, Pavillon Japonais, Montréal
  • 1972: Galerie l’Art Français
  • 1964: Galerie Royale, Paris [15]

Group Exhibitions

  • Spring 2013/01: Artists’ choice. Galerie Valentin, Montréal
  • Winter 2013/96: Small size works. Galerie Valentin, Montréal
  • 2005 Impromptu, Galerie Valentin, Montréal
  • 1991 to 2005: Les Femmeuses. Pratt & Whitney Canada, Longueuil
  • 1999: Self-portrait Galerie Jean-Pierre Valentin, Montréal
  • 1990: Les Femmeuses ’90. Pratt & Whitney Canada, Montréal
  • 1989: The Secret Me, Bibliothèque Nationale du Canada, Ottawa
  • 1989: Les Femmeuses’ 89. Pratt & Whitney Canada, Montréal
  • 1985: Views of 31 Women Artists. M.C.C.I. Montréal
  • 1984: Made in Canada. Bibliothèque Nationale du Canada, Ottawa
  • 1983: Made in Canada IV. Bibliothèque Nationale du Canada, Ottawa
  • 1983: Vivre en Ville. Travelling exhibition. Lavalin Inc.
  • 1979-1983: The Personal Work of Miyuki Tanobe. Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver
  • 1982: Art Expo N.Y. with Galerie l’Art Français of Montréal
  • 1979: Vivre en Ville. Terre des Hommes, travelling exhibition, Montréal, Toronto and Calgary
  • 1978: Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal. Tableaux de la collection CIL d’oeuvres d’art
  • 1978: Place des Arts, Montréal
  • 1975: Québec Fête, Centre d’Art du Mont-Royal
  • 1975: Galerie Marlborough Godard, Montreal
  • 1974: Galerie Marlborough Godard, Montreal
  • 1974: Terre des Hommes, MBAM. Chez Arthur et Caillou Lapierre
  • 1973: Terre des Hommes, Pavillon Japonais, Montreal
  • 1974: Man and His Universe, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal
  • 1963: Salon d’Automne de la peinture Nihonga, Tokyo
  • 1962: Salon d’Automne de la peinture Nihonga, Tokyo [15]

Published Work / Illustrations[edit]

  • Roch Carrier, Miyuki Tanobe, Canada je t'aime = Canada I love you, Montréal: livres Toundra, 1991, 72 p Print.
  • Miyuki Tanobe, Québec je t’aime, Montréal: Éditions Toundra, 1976, 48 p Print.
  • Miyuki Tanobe, Gilles Vigneault, Les gens de mon pays, Montréal: Les éditions La courte échelle, 1980 Print.
  • Yves Beauchemin, Cybèle, Coffret de luxe de sérigraphies, Montréal: Art global, 1982 Print.

Further reading[edit]

  • Robert Bernier, Miyuki Tanobe, Montréal:Les Éditions de l’Homme, 2004, 157 p Print.
  • Léo Rosshandler, Miyuki Tanobe, Tanobe, LaPrairie, Quebec: Éditions M. Broquet, 1988, 108 p Print.
  • Gabrielle Roy, Miyuki Tanobe, Miyuki Tanobe retrouve Bonheur d’Occasion, un roman de Gabrielle Roy, Montréal: Éditions internationales A. Stanké, 1983 Print.
  • Léo Rosshandler, Miyuki Tanobe, Tanobe, Ottawa : Éditions M. Broquet, 1980, 108 p Print.


  1. ^ Plourde-Arche, Léa. "A mural for Miyuki Tanobe, painter of street life in Montreal". Untapped Cities. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  2. ^ http://untappedcities.com/2013/06/10/a-mural-for-miyuki-tanobe-painter-of-street-life-in-montreal/
  3. ^ https://www.onf.ca/film/my_floating_world_miyuki_tanobe
  4. ^ "Several Canadian painters have found hockey to be a nearly endless source of inspiration. They include Miyuki Tanobe" http://www.museevirtuel-virtualmuseum.ca/edu/ViewLoitLo.do?method=preview&lang=EN&id=6733
  5. ^ "Details in the painting [...] all testify to Tanobeʼs masterful depiction of the urban environment, especially of Montrealʼs working class neighborhoods" http://www.cusd80.com/cms/lib6/AZ01001175/centricity/domain/4092/Grade_2,_Lesson_2,_Tanobe.pdf
  6. ^ Miyuki Tanobe, Gilles Vigneault, Les gens de mon pays, Montréal: Les éditions La courte échelle, 1980
  7. ^ Léo Rosshandler, Miyuki Tanobe, Tanobe, LaPrairie, Quebec: Éditions M. Broquet, 1988, p. 28
  8. ^ "The streets of Montréal and other Québec areas have provided colourful and captivating compositions for this artist, who has used scenes of daily life to chronicle working class Québec" http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/cmarchive/vol13no3/quebecjetaime.html
  9. ^ Mobilereference (2007). Asian Art. ISBN 9781605011875.
  10. ^ "Members since 1880". Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Archived from the original on 26 May 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  11. ^ http://canadiens.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=83074
  12. ^ "Miyuke Tanobe". www.collections.mnbaq.org. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  13. ^ "My Floating World: Miyuki Tanobe". NFB.ca. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
  14. ^ http://vimeo.com/52648756
  15. ^ a b http://www.galerievalentin.com/contemporary-artists/miyuki-tanobe/biography.php