Born 1965 in São Paulo, Brazil; lives and works in New York

After graduating from São Paulo University’s College of Architecture and Urbanism, Oscar Oiwa was featured in the São Paulo Arts Biennial. He then moved to Japan, where he lived for 11 years. Now one of the most internationally acclaimed Nipo-Brazilian artists, Oiwa has exhibited in over 20 different countries and sees himself as a citizen of the world. His work has been collected by such institutions as the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; and the Phoenix Museum of Art in Arizona.


My name is Oscar Oiwa and I was born in São Paulo in 1965. When I was very small my family speak Japanese inside my house and then we have TV, comics, friends maybe start speaking Portuguese but I was very child in this condition and for me it was very natural speaking two different languages.

One of the reason why I moved to the US, to New York in 2001 was because I want to make big art works, big paintings, and in Japan that’s a little bit difficult because we don’t have space we don’t have art market for big painting.

I think my works have many influences of many different places including contemporary media like movies. I grew up looking at Brazilian Art History booksmand only my adult life I gone to Japan I travel along Asia. I felt like the movies, they're like my paintings, like very big movie screen that has a very cinematographic landscape and then the people can live inside of there. That's why I like to paint in big sizes.

This is one painting about Japan. The original image comes from a hotel in Gifu. I had exhibition in countryside of Japan, then I stay in hotel and the backside of the hotel has a real nice commercial street that everywhere is flat, but this kind of shopping mall now in Japan is almost dead because they build modern shopping centers.

Other problem in countryside Japan is the population decrease because the younger generation goes to study in Tokyo, so like in big cities and the young generation stay in the capitals, start work in big cities and the countryside is almost abandoned.

Everyday I wake up, I eat something, going to go to my job. Usually I am a very quiet person but I have good eyes to look at the world, to think about the world…It’s a nice job because we can travel a lot, we can have more time to think about the life.

* * * * *

Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo is on view at the Japanese American National Museum from September 17, 2017 - February 25, 2018. The exhibition examines the experiences of artists of Japanese ancestry born, raised, or living in either Latin America or predominantly Latin American neighborhoods of Southern California. Oscar Oiwa is one of the artists featured in this exhibition.

For more information about the exhibition, visit

Japanese American National Museum
100 N. Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

*The exhibition is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a Getty-led initiative exploring Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, and is made possible through grants from the Getty Foundation. The presenting sponsor of PST: LA/LA is Bank of America.

JANM — Last modified Sep 22 2018 10:06 p.m.

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Major support by The Nippon Foundation