“Fire Fighter” (2021), oil on canvas, 60 x 76 inches

Marked with visible brushstrokes and drips of paints, the portraits of  Tim Okamura (previously) blend realistic portrayals of his subjects with the fervent, unrestrained qualities of street art. The Japanese-Canadian artist, who recently moved his studio from Brooklyn to Queens, centers his practice around storytelling and honing in on the distinctive energies of those he paints.

Much of Okamura’s portraiture develops in series, whether as the Healthcare Heroes collection devoted to the nurses and doctors working tirelessly throughout the pandemic or the commanding figures of the ongoing Women Warriors—many of these works will be on view as a solo exhibition in September of 2023 at Pittsburgh’s August Wilson African American Cultural Center. Rendered primarily in oil with the occasional acrylic or spray paint addition, the pieces capture the raw nature of Okamura’s process and the distinctive, powerful presence of his subjects.

If you’re in Los Angeles, visit the Academy Museum to view the artist’s portrait of the late writer Toni Morrison. Otherwise, find more of his paintings on his site and Instagram, and browse limited-edition prints in his shop.

 

Toni Morrison circa 1993

“Nurse Tracy” (2021), oil on linen, 40 x 60 inches

“Blood, Sweat, and Tears (Portrait of the Artist Marc Andre)” (2022), oil on linen, 32 x 26 inches

“Rites of Spring” (2021), oil on canvas, 64 x 64 inches

“Rich Medina” (2022), oil on wood panel, 24 x 24 inches

“Luminescence” (2022), oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

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