Tim Okamura will exhibit a collection of his most recent work in “Bronx • Brooklyn • Queens,”his first solo exhibition in New York City in more than five years. The show, which runs September 8—October 8, 2011 at Lyons Wier Gallery, will feature the signature realism of Okamura’s portraits painted in conjunction with graffiti-infused urban motifs.
“Bronx • Brooklyn • Queens” is a collection of primarily life-sized works that take the viewer through an exploration of the beauty and complexity of the soulful New York City woman while envisioning her transcendence to “royal” status. Each subject is captured in reverential detail, and juxtaposed against the raw, coarse reality of New York City facades. The title of each piece in the exhibition is a nod to royal culture and the “queens” of the boroughs present in each painting. Titles include "The Ascension,” "The Coronation,” “The Scepter,” "Three Queens (from King’s County),” “Diadems,” and "The Royal Guard (Bronx),” the only piece in the collection that includes male subjects in the background.
Okamura draws inspiration from the emotionally expressive power of the human face, the rich cultural identity of New York, and the evocative urban landscapes found outside his studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn. As in “Bronx • Brooklyn • Queens,” most of his work is large in scale with oil manipulated into highly textured layers so that curly afros and shirt cuffs jump from the canvas.
Okamura’s paintings live in two artistic worlds; one that includes a nine-time selection for the prestigious BP Portrait Awards Exhibition at London´s National Portrait Gallery, and one that he shares with hip-hop artist and Okamura enthusiast Swizz Beatz. Celebrity collectors include musician John Mellencamp, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of hip-hop group The Roots, actress Uma Thurman and actors Bryan Greenberg and Ethan Hawke. His paintings (and hands in some scenes) were featured in the Hollywood film "Prime" starring Meryl Streep and Uma Thurman. Other film features include "Pieces of April" (InDiGent), "School of Rock" (Paramount), "Jersey Girl" (Miramax) and Ethan Hawke's "The Hottest State."
Though he can still be considered an artist on the rise, Okamura has been recognized by institutions such as the New York Foundation for the Arts, which awarded him a Fellowship in Painting, and the British monarchy; Okamura was short-listed as a candidate to paint Queen Elizabeth by the Royal Surveyor of the Queen’s Picture Collection. His paintings have been chosen for inclusion in several prominent group exhibitions including “After Matisse/Picasso” at the Museum of Modern Art-affiliated P.S.1 in Queens, New York and “The Gentrification of Brooklyn: The Pink Elephant Speaks” at The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn. His work is also 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.
For more information about Tim Okamura, please visit www.timokamura.com.