It’s been a busy year so far for the artist Kentaro Okawara. Born and raised in Tokyo, Kentaro has already released two publications this year. The first is a Risograph-printed zine titled I’m fuckin great and the second is a beautiful compendium of the paintings, ceramics and drawings exhibited in his latest solo show Just Your Smile.
Designed by Tokyo-based design studio .otd and published by Tang-Deng, the edition of 500 pays tribute to the breath of Kentaro’s creative output. Exhibiting during the month of March earlier this year, the show featured around 100 works from the experimental artist including a series of paintings around “the invisible balance” between people and objects. “I’m always thinking about making art and books,” Kentaro tells It’s Nice That. “All the things I create make me feel better and I hope it makes other people feel better too.”
Not only does the book invite readers to view Kentaro’s recent pieces, but it also delves into his older folio of playful work. Back in 2011, the artist created a series of sculptures and paintings inspired by a number of postcards he exchanged with his grandma from the ages of five to eight years old. In more recent work, Kentaro maintains this charming and naive style of drawing, first obtained at childhood. In a number of recent Photoshop drawings, he experiments with a contrasting medium which sees a pointed difference to his earlier, washier watercolour illustrations.
The focus for much of his work is exploring “the various forms of love I feel,” Kentaro explains. His enduringly optimistic tendencies are further inspected in his zine I’m fuckin great. Published by Can Can Press in Mexico City, the zine sees a sequence of Kentaro’s Photoshop drawings undergo the energetic Riso treatment. On the subject of the zine, Kentaro goes on to say that, quite simply, “the book means that everything is fuckin great.” Printed using a three-way colour scheme of pink, yellow and black, Kentaro’s signature style of flat, blocked-out forms only furthers this concept.
With another book on the horizon to be published later this year, this time, a picture book titled Tsuru no Ongaeshi meaning the crane returns a favour, Kentaro’s year doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. Continuing to produce a high volume of work which skims his flowing streams of consciousness, we’re hoping that the internationally-exhibiting artist will bring his work to the UK sometime soon.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.