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Okubo, Benji [ bio ]

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H: 20 in, W: 14 in

California, 1927-1941


Gift of Chisato Okubo


Stretched and unframed.

Portrait of a woman with green skin and blue hair, eyes and lips. Head and shoulders are depicted. Her hair hangs loosely around her shoulders. The woman is depicted a three-quarters facial view of the proper left side of her face. She wears a vivid burgandy dress, patterned with salmon pink, green and gold stylized patterns; a brooch of a scorpion is pinned on bosom and bold red earrings dangle from her ears. The woman is positioned centrally within the canvas and her neck and head are titled diagonally. The artist uses bold primary colors --blue, red and yellow--and their respective complements--orange, green and violet-- to bring a sense of dynamism to the painting. The bright colors instantly attract the viewer. Upon closer examination, the viewer can note how the face, neck, and shoulders are gently shaded to indicate bone structure and musculature. The brush strokes are loose in these areas. The finer details of the hair, eyes, nose and lips, however, are rendered in a more delicate style--with precise and tight brush strokes. In particular, the hair has a rhythmic quality in its repeated linear brush strokes. The green pattern on the woman's dress is reminiscent of formalized Japanese kimono pattern. The style of the painting is similar to Hideo Date's paintings -- both have a basis in Stanton MacDonald-Wright's sychromism movement with its emphasis on color harmony, balance and rhythmic lines.

The woman depicted is beautiful, with a muscularity and solidness. The artist seems to depict her character through her full yet firm curve of her lips, her flared nostrils and the arch of her eyebrows. Her brush with the scorpion on it also seems indicative of her personality. This is a study of a woman who is self-assured and confident, who faces the world with fearlessness and a little scorn.

On verso, stamped on wooden supports: Duncan vail Co. Los Angeles, California.

All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from materials in this collection must be submitted to the Collections Management & Access Unit at the Japanese American National Museum (



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