Kenyan-born artist Stephen Namara, widely known for creating paintings and masterful drawings created with pencil, conté crayon, and dry powder pigments, has been exhibiting in the U.S. since 1980. Namara’s artistic abilities and his involved research into his subjects have enabled him to produce a highly acclaimed body of work that is held in major corporate, state, and university collections, and he is the recipient of numerous, important drawing prizes. Namara’s images speak directly to viewers without the need for words, providing a space within which we can experience our own mental and emotional reactions to the images, forms, and movements, without the need for academic explanation. The non-narrative imagery that he employs enables our attention to dwell on the formal and material aspects of the art, and this encourages a reflective approach to our perceptions.
The works on paper in this exhibition concentrate on strong women who are adorned with eucalyptus leaf garments and headpieces, as well as a dramatic skull drawing, and a skeleton with a mask in “Anonymous.”
John Goodman, whose works are rooted in figuration and lean toward abstraction,
takes inspiration from the early modernists and the Bay Area Figurative Movement. Using thick oil paint that the artist molds, scrapes, or pushes with brushes into his canvases while working with live models, and by utilizing a reductive palette, consisting of pared down smoky earth colors, he creates powerful paintings with an understated, minimalistic approach.
Nathan Oliveira, an inspirational mentor to Goodman, said in 2001, “John Goodman is one of the few Bay Area painters who still has faith in the language of paint,” while Goodman says of his own work, "Painting is the coming together of two things: a specific subject (model or landscape, for instance), and something elemental in the artist, which allows viewers to connect, empathize, love, or feel compassion."
Chikako Okada addresses questions of the human condition through her autobiographical and often unnerving paintings and drawings. Her meticulously detailed work is rich in symbolism, and it bridges traditional realism, magical realism, and surrealism, Her very personal works reference feminine power, vulnerability, sadness, longing, and desire, and they often feature adolescent girls and boys, who the artist “finds” on social media from all over the world, and who she then “works with” from her small home studio in Japan.
Okada is inspired by the paintings of European masters, Mexico's Frida Kahlo, and the surrealists. She has exhibited internationally for over 30 years and will be traveling from Japan to join us at the opening reception.
Over the past two centuries from the earliest days of photography, the nude has evolved slowly. Casado addresses the subject with a clarity and reverence for not only the human body, but for the history of its being photographed and what that means to the observer. Casado’s models (dancers, athletes, and bodybuilders) are usually masked, so our attention is concentrated on the body (rather than on a face). We see hard muscles underneath soft skin. We notice the body’s strength as well as its vulnerability. Casado’s images are a glimpse into what is both private and known, and they emit a timeless, elegant quality, due to the truthfulness contained in the images, which is the foundation of the work.
The photographs are traditional silver gelatin prints on Kodak Ecktalure paper, which is no longer manufactured. The artist discovered that the cadmium in the paper reacts in a very different way when processed with a specific A&B Litho developer, and it must be aged to give the desired effect, but the effect of the aging process is impossible to predict. So, the texture, color, and density of each print is unique and cannot be duplicated from one printing session to the next. The developer could produce in one session only a limited number of prints, each bearing a slightly different character. The Casado nude Lith prints in the exhibition are from the artist’s now closed series of nudes.