There are times when we compare ourselves to others when we’re unsatisfied with our work and sometimes even question why we’re even doing it, to begin with. Canadian born and New Yorker, Tim Okamura, explores identity and culture to explain this through art. He is known for his depiction of African-American and minority subjects in urban settings, and his combination of graffiti and realism.
Tim began his professional journey by attending the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary where he graduated with distinction before coming to the “Big Apple” to attend the School of Visual Arts and now resides in Brooklyn, New York. In his work, you can see that he has been influenced by urban life and hip-hop. As explained by an art journalist he samples excerpts from art history and world mythology, blending classical techniques of oil painting with the spontaneity of spray-painted graffiti, combining the academic “realism” of his portrait and figure painting with modern graphics and contemporary urban environments.
“I continue to be inspired simultaneously by the disparate visual language of Rembrandt’s dark portraits, the intense contemplation of Antonio Lopez Garcia, and “wild-style” graffiti writers”
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Okamura is a recipient of the 2004 Fellowship in Painting from the New York Foundation for the Arts and has exhibited in numerous galleries throughout the world. Spanning the U.S., Canada, Italy, Japan, Ecuador and Turkey, and has been selected nine times to appear in the prestigious BP Portrait Award Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, England. The University of North Carolina hosted a retrospective exhibition of Okamura’s work that focused on nearly a decade of production. In 2015, Okamura received a letter of commendation from the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden.Following that in 2016 to have a piece hanging in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
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Tim Okamura’s art is on display in the permanent collections of the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, The Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Toronto Congress Center, the Hotel Arts in Calgary, Canada, and Standard Chartered Bank in London, England. He remains popular to celebrity collectors such as Uma Thurman, John Mellencamp, “Questlove” (The Roots), director Ben Younger, as well as actors Bryan Greenberg, Vanessa Marcil, Annabella Sciorra, and Ethan Hawke. There’s one thing that can keep artists from giving up, from putting away their tools of the trade and succumbing to the average life of those who don’t partake in something that creates discussion, beauty, or personal satisfaction and that is being and feeling passionate about art. That is the will to communicate on a medium other than speech and writing by putting their language on a canvas. Keep on speaking that language that overwhelms the world, Tim.
To view more of Tim Okamura’s work please visit his website. Or follow him at the social media below.