Every month Beautiful Bizarre Magazine chooses one of our favourite artists to TAKE OVER social media for the day. For February, we chose Tim Okamura to share with us the artists who have inspired him through his artistic career. Just in case you missed it, below we present the full TAKE OVER.
Tim Okamura // “Stay Warm Keep it Cool (The Bond No.4)” // Tim Okamura investigates identity, the urban environment, metaphor, and cultural iconography through a unique method of painting – one that combines an essentially ‘realist’ approach to the figure with collage, spray paint and mixed media. The juxtaposition of the rawness and urgency of street art and academic ideals has created a visual language that acknowledges a traditional form of story-telling through portraiture, while infusing the work with resonant contemporary motifs.
“Stay Warm Keep it Cool (The Bond No.4)” is the most recent painting I’ve created in what can be described as a “sub-series” of paintings which are part of my ongoing series entitled “Winter”. This work examines the bond between close friends, investigating ideas of sisterhood, support, emotional and psychological togetherness. Importantly I think these paintings represent relationships that supersede any imposed boundaries of race, ethnicity or socio-economic background. This painting is about the connectivity of the human experience. The idea of both having to dress appropriately to weather the elements points to a basic shared physical necessity but this protective clothing also symbolizes measures taken to withstand external bias and the fallout of insecurity of others. The ear muffs, though warm and fuzzy, are evocative of construction headphones and represent an agreement to “cancel out the noise”.
This painting also involved me pushing my boundaries to some degree in terms of color palette, and further breaking down detail and some aspects of construction of the figure. I felt a good sense of balance in making this painting, between control, more dynamic gestural brushwork, and allowing the paint to react organically on the surface and simply do its thing.
Euan Uglow // “Zoe” // In Uglow’s work, I love the careful analysis of form, very deliberate composition, and color relationships he explored. Also the fact that much of his measurements and construction notations are not only left visible but are an important part of the work. Although this is a closer cropped portrait, it is a great example of his draftsmanship and bare record of observation that I feel very connected to. It has a rigid graphic strength but still feels organic and alive.
Barkley Handricks // “What’s Going On” // I had the pleasure of meeting Barkley Hendricks a few years back, shortly before he passed away. To be honest, I realized how “late in the game” it was that I really delved deeper into his work. He inspired so many portrait artists who are leaders in the discipline today. I love this limited palette group portrait, “What’s Going On”– the white on white contrasting the dark rich skin tones in such a compelling way. It’s another work that is so strong in its positive / negative design and so controlled in its rhythms. His expertise with the interplay between flat and modeled forms continues to excite me every time I look at it. I’m especially enamored with so much of his work from the 1970’s and 80’s.
Jennifer Packer // “Eric” // I’ve only recently discovered the paintings of Jennifer Packer and they struck a chord with me immediately. What I find interesting in this case is that I find her painting instincts are at once in stark contrast but also in step with mine. By that I mean, she works thin and washy, and there is much spontaneity in the brushwork, a looseness and playful energy that I often find elusive; yet her fascination of the properties of oil paint reacting to paint thinner and her love of pattern are very much up my alley. I’m also greatly inspired by her approach to color, she is someone who understands how powerful a limited palette – in this case incorporating a strong primary color scheme – can be unifying but also very expressive in terms of symbolism, while eliciting a great sense of energy and high key emotion.
Larry Rivers // “Parts of the Face: French Vocabulary Lesson” // The freedom with which Larry Rivers shifts styles as needed to best serve the concept in his imagery is something I find very reassuring as a painter. I feel I’m still trying to navigate through issues of balancing style and substance. A question I often ask myself of painting is “does the imagery serve the technique or does the technique serve the imagery” ? I love Rivers’ ability to effortlessly switch gears from structural linear mark-making to more abstract painterly passages, to diagrammatical, even including stenciled typography when needed. I chose this painting as an example of his interpretation of a portrait but his body of work is so deep, rich and ambitious he’s an artist I will always continue to look at.
Antonio Lopez Garcia // “Antonio y Mari” //Another favorite, legendary Spanish painter Antonio Lopez Garcia is the embodiment of the deeply resonant power of observation. His attention to detail, yet highly refined ability to translate and edit what he sees have resulted in a stunning body of work over the course of his career. His paintings, drawings, and sculptures represent a transcendent experience of the figure, architectural spaces, and nature. I’ll assume he may be one of the better known artists internationally on my list – but regardless if you already a fan, a highly recommend the 1992 documentary film on Lopez Garcia called “Dream of Light”.
Kerry James Marshall // “Untitled” // Kerry James Marshall is a modern master. He is a painter whose ongoing, deeply profound narrative exploring the emotionally complex stories and often highly unjust experiences of being African-American really exemplify the heart-rending power contemporary figurative painting is still capable of. I chose this work because of the theme of”the artist at work”, but also because of the striking use of shape, color and starkly contrasting values. To be honest, I’ve just barely scratched the surface in terms of my excitement for Marshall’s compositions and bold, unconventional and poignant approach to tackling challenging subject matter – he is an artist I will study intently moving forward.
Lucian Freud // “Reflection (Self Portrait)” // Another legend in the world of figurative art, I was very fortunate to be able to check out the posthumous exhibit “Lucian Freud Portraits” at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2012. I had seen his work many times before and was extremely inspired by the purity of his connections to his models, the directness of his painting, and the sculptural way he treated his figures. I had previously learned much about paint surface, the power of impasto and draftsmanship and flesh color but in the 2012 show I was able to observe some unfinished works that provided a clearer window into his process. I saw work that started as thin underpaintings, and were built up over the course of many sittings. So much soul in the labor, I think that resonates with anyone who experiences his work first hand. Genius.
This was piece chosen by Tim Okamurafor his TAKE OVER. Thank you again Tim, we really appreciate you taking the time to put this day together.