Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Artists as Writers

Artist Biography

(Image by Kiyo Kiyooka, from Vancouver Public Library's Literary Landmarks.)

KIYOOKA, Roy (1926 - 1994)

Areas of Expertise
Painting, Poetry, Multimedia Art


Roy Kenzie Kiyooka, painter and poet (b at Moose Jaw, Sask 18 Jan 1926; d at Vancouver 8 Jan 1994). Of Japanese ancestry, Roy Kenzie Kiyooka grew up in the Prairies. He was multitalented and tackled other disciplines, including sculpture, photography, filmmaking, music and writing. He studied at the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (now Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and Art) in Calgary from 1946 to 1949 with Jock MacDonald. In 1956 Kiyooka spent 8 months in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, where he was a student of James Pinto. There he was able to see the works of the great Mexican muralists Rivera, Orozco and Siqueiros. In Mexico he started to experiment in his paintings with Duco, an automobile lacquer. Having returned to Regina that fall, Roy Kiyooka began teaching at the Regina College (now the University of Regina).

Roy Kiyooka was asked to participate in the São Paulo Biennial of 1966 and in 1969 was commissioned to create a sculpture to be displayed at the Canadian Pavilion at Expo 70 in Osaka. The VANCOUVER ART GALLERY organized a retrospective of his work in 1975. Kiyooka had an overall fruitful teaching career, having taught also in Montréal at Sir George Williams University (now CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY), in Halifax at the NOVA SCOTIA COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN and finally at the UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA in Vancouver, from which he retired a few years before his death. A collection of Roy Kiyooka's correspondence, written between 1975 and 1985, Pacific Rim Letters, was published in 2005.

Biography from The Canadian Encyclopedia

Online Resources

Roy Kiyooka on the Canadian Encyclopedia.

Remembering Roy Kiyooka, an artivle from the JCCA Bulletin.

Listen to Kiyooka his poems on SpokenWeb. Poems from Kyoto Airs and Nevertheless These Eyes are read.