Art / English / Thoughts / Women

IWD 2020 tribute: Naomi Okubo

For this year’s IWD post, I would like to dedicate it to Japanese artist, Brooklyn-based, Naomi Okubo. Her paintings are feminine, depicting herself in an environment full of plants, flowers and bursting of vivid colours. The girl in her works is shy, she looks away or covers her face. This portrayal is based on what the artist has experienced. In many of the interviews she gave, Okubo explains the inspirations of her works as follows:

I’ve always cared about appearances. The ideas for my work come from an inferiority complex and my experiences during adolescence. That is when everyone starts to think and worry about what others think of their look. When I changed my own image, people changed their attitude towards me“.

Greeting card from paradise.

Okubu combines digital with manual works. She would scans the printed images digitally, then project them to the canvas, cotton cloth where she then traces the forms by hand. Most of her works are acryl on cotton cloth.

She intentionally does not want to paint faces because Okubo believes when there are no faces on her paintings, viewers would think more about them, about the message she portrays.

The girls are walking to the house with the wolves. I see Okubo is inspired by the Little Red riding hood in this painting. I wonder whether this is an analogy in real life, how in some places it is still not safe for women to walk, even to their home.

This is not my life. On the wall there hangs the previous painting on the wall: The girls are walking to the house with the wolves.

Greeting card from somewhere else. This was published in the AirBnB magazine in July 2019. I recognize the typical scenery at Cinque Terre, Italy at the background.

Party on my bed.

Camping. Here in this painting, some Japanese influences are visible. It is mount Fuji at the background? The clouds and the tree branch look like they were pasted on the painting, creating some depth. The tree branch does not seem belong to the scene but it fits perfectly.

What Naomi Okubo shows us is that there are girls and women out there who struggle with their inferiority complex. She was one of them, once bullied in her youth, Okubo was able to overcome this.

What she has achieved is inspiring to empower those with the same situation as she was. To them especially and other women out there; those who are weak or strong I wish you all Happy International Women’s Day!

Naomi Okubo

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