'Begin Transmission' is a solo exhibition featuring recent paintings by Brooklyn based Canadian artist Tim Okamura. This new body of work investigates the power and importance of visual, linguistic, and spiritual communication in an era of advanced technology that has made personal interaction easier than ever before but has also created a construct lacking nuance and emotional overtone often leading to misunderstanding, and misinterpretation of intended messaging.
Re-visiting modes of communication of the past while continuing to employ the gritty realism he has become known for in his portraiture, Okamura points to the importance of encouraging genuine discourse in the era we occupy. By remaining focused on women of color and diverse ethnic backgrounds as his subjects, he also importantly highlights the need for constructive conversation during a period of social strife in America, where all too often anonymous "communication" often leads to a breakdown of any constructive conversation that serves to move forward our collective consciousness.
In this exhibition Okamura has pushed personal boundaries in terms of technical investigation by incorporating objects such as telegraph keys, vintage naval signal flags and an antique telephone into the work, as well as collaborative explorations with fellow artists and the general public.
The collaborative approach was intended to be similar to the tradition of the ‘Cadavre Exquis’ or ‘exquisite corpse” - with Okamura either offering a starting a point, or simply continuing the visual conversation on canvas that was already underway. These excursions have led to often unexpectedly interesting interactions, resulting in a psychologically compelling visual dialogue between both friends and strangers that further underscore the power and complexity of the communication theme.
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, embracing both representational and symbolic content.
Born in Edmonton, Canada, painter Tim Okamura earned a B.F.A. with Distinction at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, Canada before moving to New York City to attend the School of Visual Arts in 1991. After graduating with an M.F.A. in Illustration as Visual Journalism, Okamura moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he continues to live and work.
Okamura - a recipient of the 2004 Fellowship in Painting from the New York Foundation for the Arts – has exhibited extensively in galleries throughout the world, including 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.
In 2015 Tim received a Letter of commendation from Vice President Joe Biden in recognition of his creative contribution to criminal justice reform.
Tim Okamura’s art is currently on display at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington D. C. as well as is 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. Celebrity collectors include Uma Thurman, musicians John Mellencamp, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (The Roots), director Ben Younger, as well as actors Hill Harper, Bryan Greenberg, Vanessa Marcil, Annabella Sciorra, and Ethan Hawke.