When he was only five years old, Kentaro Okawara’s grandfather passed away. Noticing his grandma might be feeling lonely, he decided to start sending her hand-drawn postcards every week. Now as a grown man, his blissful, effervescent multimedia work is proof that he never quite left that sweet, naive part of his life – or his love for his grandma – behind.
Sadly, however much we fight it, there tends to come a time in life when you have to get your head down, stop daydreaming and start being serious. There’s bills to pay, obligations to fulfil, a reputation to uphold. Work must be done. Perhaps this is why we find ourselves turning to the art world, to remind ourselves that there are some people out there who seem to have been handed some kind of magic key to a life completely uninhibited by sadness, commitments and functionality. People for whom the glee of childhood never really ebbed away, and who are able to visualize their state of wonder for us to enjoy and learn from.
In Tokyo, an artist called Kentaro Okawara is one of these keyholders. A popular, prolific graphic artist who, like so many creatives of his kind, is as comfortable filling a gallery with endless canvases of his paintings as he is making childrens’ books, streetwear or funny cushions to sell in his online shop. It’s a very beguiling Peter Pan – or millennial – mentality: a two-fingers-up approach to what an “artist” should be. Where many other similar multimedia artists can be poe-faced about their output, Kentaro’s work and the way he talks about it is the physical embodiment of an impish grin. A refreshing, childlike, sunshine-y disposition that beams through his work, reminding us of what it felt like to be a happy kid many, many moons ago.