Nobuo Kubota

Nobuo Kubota began his career as an architect in 1959. He left architecture after 10 years to devote his life to art, though architecture would remain the most powerful influence in his work for the next 50 years. His early sculptures reflect the influence of the constructivist and minimalist sculptors. The major part of his work over the years has been involved with sculpture installations. His work has no obvious connection to any kind of art movements.

In 1964, he spent 14 months in Japan, investigating the impact of Zen and Shintoism on its art and culture. When he returned to Canada his work strongly reflected the influence of the time spent in Japan. As writer Kit Lort expressed it:“Nobuo Kubota’s mature work has a shifting sensibility which seems at one moment to be innately Japanese, at another essentially Western but employing specific Japanese references…The sense of searching revealed in the development of his career can be read as an acknowledgement of a certain uneasy sense of cultural history.”

Currently, his visual work has been focused on visual sound poetry which explores the strategy of “intermedia” and serves as an extension to his vocal work. His interest in Japanese calligraphy has led him to explore and develop his own style of calligraphy which he uses to write scores for vocal presentation.

In the late 1960s he played with the Artists’ Jazz Band with artists Gord Rayner, Graham Coughtry, and Robert Markle. He also performed with the improvising orchestra CCMC from 1974 to 1991 and was one of the founding members of the Music Gallery. During this period he was introduced to Sound Poetry by the Four Horesmen and he continues to evolve and develop this vocal technique. Kubota’s extended vocal technique explores the boundaries of the human voice, and although his work is not based in language it uses the phonic and sonic elements of speech in its expression to present a diverse form of communication. As a vocalist, he has performed in some of Europe’s most prestigious sound poetry festivals. He has published two books, “Phonic Slices” and “Deep Text” with Coach House Books.

He lives in Toronto, Ontario with his wife, Lee, and continues to work on his art.


Overwriting & Overvoicing

2010, 20:40 minutes, colour

Loop Holes

2008, 11:44 minutes, colour

Sounds Like Kubota

2006, 10:18 minutes, colour/B&W, English

Critical Writing

Remodeling Asian Media
by Lloyd Wong. Afterimage, May 1991, v. 18, no. 10.
Yellow Peril: Reconsidered
by Stephen Lee. Fuse, Fall 1991, v. 15, no. 1/2.