Hamadryad 42

A wall-hung, wood sculpture consisting of nine square panels that are mounted together to form a larger square. Each panel is constructed from narrow, vertical strips of camphor wood, glued and screwed together in an overlapping fashion. The roughly chiseled, exposed wood along the narrow edge of each strip creates a dramatic striped effect when juxtaposed against the colorful strip face, painted bright red but with additional colors and gold and silver foil. Each panel has two vertical metal rods screwed to the backside that add support to the structure. Metal picture wire, strung between the two rods, is used to hang the panel to the wall.

Maker(s)
Artist: Okura Jiro (Japan, 1942-2014)
Historical period(s)
Heisei era, 1994
Medium
Camphor wood, pigments, metal leaf, glue; steel supports
Dimensions
H x W x D (overall): 161 x 160 x 15.7 cm (63 3/8 x 63 x 6 3/16 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
Gift of the artist
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1998.127a-i
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Sculpture
Type

Sculpture

Keywords
Heisei era (1989 - present), Japan
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Description

A wall-hung, wood sculpture consisting of nine square panels that are mounted together to form a larger square. Each panel is constructed from narrow, vertical strips of camphor wood, glued and screwed together in an overlapping fashion. The roughly chiseled, exposed wood along the narrow edge of each strip creates a dramatic striped effect when juxtaposed against the colorful strip face, painted bright red but with additional colors and gold and silver foil. Each panel has two vertical metal rods screwed to the backside that add support to the structure. Metal picture wire, strung between the two rods, is used to hang the panel to the wall.

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 generated over centuries by a living tree inspires his work. The piece is assembled in nine parts intended to be mounted vertically for hanging. Sharp cuts across the surface accent the parallel sections created by the artist's repeated bodily chanting. In visual terms, these cuts resemble the bells and gongs that sound at intervals during the recitation of a Buddhist sutra.

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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