The ‘Trees’ of Taro Okamoto

Exhibition Period: June 17 - October 25 , 2015

I always think of trees as being the opposite of stone. A quiet, yet persistent battle is being waged between the inorganic and organic, the worlds of death and life. Stone bites but plants grow and continue to overthrow stone. Destruction and completion, balance and collapse, solace and terror.

Taro Okamoto felt a great affinity with ‘trees’. The sight of them reaching up to the heavens made him aware of the dynamism of life. He superimposed human ideals on the youthful spreading of their limbs and felt they represented a circuit through which people could commune with heaven.
That is why trees appear so often in Okamoto’s work.
The ‘Tree of Life’ which encompasses all forms of life, from single-cell organisms to humankind; ‘Tree Man’ presents a strange life form filled with vitality; the ‘Tree of Children’ shows various expressions on children’s faces that stretch out in all directions; ‘Tree Spirit’ which graphically reflects a primeval, magical power; the ‘Tree of Eyes’ bears bunches of countless eyes; the ‘Stone and Tree’ depicts confrontation and conflict between life and death…
For an artist like Taro Okamoto, who continually depicted ‘life’ in his work, ‘trees’ represented a critically important motif and this exhibition will introduce various examples of these ‘trees’ that were so common in his work.