Masami Teraoka was born in 1936 in Onomichi, Hiroshima-ken, Japan. He graduated in 1959 with a B.A. in aesthetics from Kwansei Gakuin University, and continued his education to receive a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles in 1968. Integrating reality with fantasy, humor with commentary, and history with the present became his working challenge. His early paintings are often focused on the meeting of his two cultures—East and West. Series such as McDonald's Hamburgers Invading Japan and 31 Flavors Invading Japan characterize some themes in his work. In the 1980’s, Teraoka’s watercolors became large scale in an effort to depict the subject of AIDS. Since the late 1990’s, he has been producing large-scale narrative work addressing social and political issues, especially the abuse of children by priests and other examples of hypocrisy in religious institutions. His recent large-scale paintings are inspired by Renaissance paintings and continue the narrative approach of his Ukiyo-e inspired work.
Teraoka has been the subject of more than 70 solo exhibitions, many of which have traveled extensively, including those organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1979, the Yale University Art Gallery in 1998 and New Albion Gallery in Sydney Australia in 2012. The Honolulu Museum of Art will host a solo exhibition of Teraoka’s work in 2015. In 1996 he was featured in a solo exhibition at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution and in 1997 at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. His work is represented in more than 50 public collections worldwide, including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, the Queensland Art Gallery in Australia, and the Gallery of Modern Art in Scotland. Teraoka has exhibited with Catharine Clark Gallery since 1998.