Kenzo Okada American, b. Yokohama, Japan, 1902; died 1982
Oil on canvas
67 3/4 x 80 inches (172.8 x 203.2 cm)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Gift, Susan Morse Hilles, 1981
After Kenzo Okada relocated from Tokyo to New York in 1950, his work came to represent a melding of Japanese traditions and American abstract trends. Rather than striving for pure abstraction, his work from the 1950s could be called “semi-abstract,” evoking the natural world through carefully composed form and a decidedly muted palette. These works are subtle, quiet, and poetic—more meditative in nature than the energetic gestural abstractions of some of his American-born counterparts. The composition of Decision (1956) is also organized to suggest natural topography. Blocky, softly defined shapes organically arrange the canvas into rough horizontal registers, creating a panoramic quality reminiscent of landscape painting. Meanwhile, small, irregular shapes hover and tumble rhythmically across the stable ground. Okada thus seeks a balance between heavy and delicate, tangible and abstract.