San Francisco

Arthur Okamura

Arthur Okamura has put painting aside in favor of graphics for a while. There is a frog just in the corner of the page which was, on first glance, a texture of greens. His block cuts, silk screens, and book illustrations are very Zen, even avowedly as in his illustrations for a book called Ox Herding which is a very traditional Zen sequence. Joel Weishaus, who wrote the poems, interpreted the text as“Search, traces, caught, taming, riding home, no ox, source, and city.” Okamura’s equivalent for city is a mandala of four circles of color around a circle of white. The traces are the oxen’s spoor. His Raked Sand and Rocks has a print of rubbings from a rock printed in one color and offset and printed in another color to give it a bas-relief appearance. The lines are the sand which is the sea. But in my addled apprehension, Zen is confused with Dada, and I liked the more specifically Dada drawings for 1234567890 by Robert Creeley (some of which were also enlarged into silk screens). Each digit is represented by a nude in a position giving her a twoness, a threeness, etc. There was a pyramid of nudes on each others’ shoulders; another was a tower of people, each riding on the finger of the person below. These are very tiny nudes but they are no smaller than the type in the book they illustrate. There is also a print of cows browsing in a hard-edge color field meadow, and a cow with a map for the spots on its hide. This is at the Hansen-Fuller Gallery.

Knute Stiles