Hamadryad — Forest

Sculpture consists of six free-standing vertical units (or trees), three of which are painted black and three red. Each unit contains two identical planks that are bolted back to back to a black metal pole/stand for support. The planks are constructed from overlapping, horizontal strips of camphor wood glued and screwed together, with a metal rod screwed to the backside for further stability. The roughly chiseled, exposed wood surface along the upper edge of each strip creates a dramatic striped effect juxtaposed against the red or black painted surface of the strip face. When bolted together, the wider, bottom end of each plan splays out slightly adding to the three-dimensionality to the unit.

Maker(s)
Artist: Okura Jiro (Japan, 1942-2014)
Historical period(s)
Heisei era, 1995
Medium
Camphor wood, pigments, glue; steel supports
Dimensions
H x W x D (average): 250 x 40.5 x 36.8 cm (98 7/16 x 15 15/16 x 14 1/2 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
Gift of the artist
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1998.126.1-6
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Sculpture
Type

Sculpture

Keywords
Heisei era (1989 - present), Japan
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Description

Sculpture consists of six free-standing vertical units (or trees), three of which are painted black and three red. Each unit contains two identical planks that are bolted back to back to a black metal pole/stand for support. The planks are constructed from overlapping, horizontal strips of camphor wood glued and screwed together, with a metal rod screwed to the backside for further stability. The roughly chiseled, exposed wood surface along the upper edge of each strip creates a dramatic striped effect juxtaposed against the red or black painted surface of the strip face. When bolted together, the wider, bottom end of each plan splays out slightly adding to the three-dimensionality to the unit.

Label

Okura's work is inspired by his practice of Zen Buddhist meditation. Instead of meditation, however, he uses the repeated motion of cutting wood in parallel motions, which he regards as a kind of kinesthetic or bodily chanting.  He works not to achieve a preconceived product, but rather for the spiritual experience in the process of working.

This work is one of his series titled "Hamadryad," or "tree spirit," from a Greek word describing a wood nymph who lives within the trees until they die. Okura's deep respect for wood as a material from an ancient, once living tree inspires his work.

The "forest" consists of six identical standing units: three red and three black. They are free-standing, and are intended to be freely and variably arranged in space. According to Okura's concepts, the arrangement of these units generates distinct physical spaces in a manner similar to a folding screen. He considers the spaces as the true focus of his art.

Published References
  • Okura Jiro, Jane Farmer. Jiro Okura: Wood, Paper, Water. Exh. cat. Washington. .
Collection Area(s)
Contemporary Art, Japanese Art
Web Resources
Whistler's Neighborhood
Google Cultural Institute
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