"Pearl Diver and Octopus" belongs to a series of works created by the artist titled "Wave" series, which he made in the 1980s. The subject was inspired by the work of female Japanese divers who harvest abalone in the water's off of the islands' coasts.
The pearl divers were a classic subject of historic Japanese woodblock prints, and Teraoka adopts both the subject and the style of these prints in this watercolor. The artist credits the eighteenth-century traditional woodblock printmaker Kitagawa Utamaro as the inspiration for the sensual beauty of the flowing lines of the water and hair: "Utamaro's composition was definitely inside of me as a subconscious undercurrent."
American Paintings from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, cat. no. 98, p. 228.
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