Nobuo Kubota

About the Artist

Nobuo Kubota, “Nobby” to his friends, was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1932 to Japanese parents.  They were a proud Japanese family descended from aristocratic Samurai warriors who practiced and maintained the traditional cultures of Japan in their home and lives.

Kubota attended the University of Toronto and graduated with a degree in architecture in 1959.  He practiced architecture for ten years before he became a full-time practicing artist.  Writer Paul Dutton states that Kubota, “…isn’t only an  installationAn art work specially designed to fit in or to make use of a specific type of space. It usually consists of more than one element and relates to the space in which it is displayed.  artist or a sculptor, or a video artist, or a printmaker, or a designer, carpenter, cabinetmaker, or instrument maker.  He’s any of these all at once.  And more, in fact, if terms are extended to non-professional activities - in which he is also a water-colourist, paper-collagist, and potter of tea bowls.  And come to think of it, he is also, professionally a teacher.”  (Dutton, 1996)

In 1970 Kubota received a Canada Council grant and spent a year in Japan.  He was interested in  ZenA Chinese and Japanese school of Buddhism which claims that enlightenment can be attained through meditation, self-contemplation, and intuition rather than through scriptures. (Artlex.com)  Buddhism, so joined a monastery and lived the simple disciplined life of a monk for that year.  This experience affected him deeply and influenced him as an artist.  In a 1975 interview with Christopher Youngs, Kubota said, “[a]rt is secondary.  It’s a vehicle towards becoming as complete a human being as possible,” (Youngs, 1975) and in a 1999 article he is quoted as saying, “[a]rt is in the act of living not making.” (Heath, 1999)

Kubota is also passionate about music and music-making and he applies many of the same processes used in musical improvisation to his art practice.  From 1962 through 1976 he played saxophone with the Artist’s Jazz Band in Toronto.  They released four albums in two-record sets.  In 1974 he joined the Toronto free improvisation band known as CCMC (Canadian Creative Music Collective) and began experimenting with making sounds using a variety of ordinary objects including children’s toys.  One sculpture/instrument he created was a multi-instrumental workstation for the production of sound for the CCMC.  Occasionally he would knock all the sounds over at once for a dramatic ending or special effect.  In 1991 he developed over-sensitive hearing and had to leave the CCMC.

Today, Kubota lives and works in Toronto, Ontario.


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning