Joshua Obara Norwood is a British-Japanese Photographer and Art Historian (in training) along with this he also creates installation and socially engaged work. His work embodies the free spirit; never a connected theme with each project with everything changing all the time.
The mutant nude takes the concept of a nude. It is what inspired this piece. I turned the subject into being unrecognisable – the only trait allowing one to recognise it is the breasts. Though they have instead turned into eyes. They are watchful of the audience- judging the audience for gazing upon the nude. It’s sort of- the way that many would judge a nude, but instead, the nude is judging you.
It takes the gaze from the audience and becomes that gaze. It’s looking directly at you. It is supposed to make you feel judged and watched. It turns you into the nude itself.
This is inspired by a firework show that I went to recently. The colours explode in the air, captivating the audience in the canvas of the dark sky. Yet many consider it a spectacle rather than an abstract art piece. When a firework is lit- it ejects so much colour in random strays of patterns into the sky. It’s beautiful; it might be loud, but in reality, with the sounds dulled- it becomes a peaceful array of colours scattering every terrace of the night sky.
It must inspire peace within those who view it, the peace that the night gives. The abstract is a firework; therefore, the abstract is its style.
Am I Dreaming, or Am I Dead? showcases an abstract aurora borealis landscape. It questions the intents which you see when you die. Is it beautiful, or is this just all a dream? Buy the artwork here.
If you think about it, dying is just like forever dreaming. Therefore this serves as a way to accept the coming death that we all face in that we dream our best lives on death. It’s not existential because who is to say that we simply don’t have another life or we disappear? Has anyone come back to tell us what death is yet?
For now, it’s simply a dream.
THE CONFRONTATIVE NUDE (2022)
It is the nude that confronts you. It asks the simple question, “why do you gaze”? Though the subject is male in this work, there has always been a gaze towards artistic nudes throughout history. This turns the tide; it turns the nude into the gazer, and you are now the subject of its gaze.
It intends to make the viewer feel what a subject of a nude painting would feel being gazed upon. If it is objectifying the audience- you are what the subject of the drawing wants. The subject is nevertheless unknown- apart from him being male. This is to emulate the idea of numerous people, who the subject doesn’t know, in a nude painting gazing onto the painting. Now this male gaze is on you, the viewer. How does it make you feel now that the tides have turned?
From my previous work on creating a nude and a flower drawing, I decided that it inspired me enough to make a coloured pencil drawing. Expanding upon the genderless nude idea, I again distorted the figure sufficiently so that it doesn’t represent a human- only slightly.
NUDE IN COLOR (2022)
The work intends to tell people that we’re human, no matter our differences. Removing the figure and replacing it with a space of colour; allows anyone to fill the gaps. It requires the viewer to accept this fact and move on. The colours are of beauty no matter how we look. Purchase it here.
DREAM FLOWERS (2022)
The dream flowers are not based on real flowers but rather ones created from an aesthetic idea. It’s rather personal, but these flowers blossom to remove anxiety for me; they bloom and show their colours when they don’t feel pressured or stressed.
These flowers are, to me, myself projecting my ideas onto the paper of what I want to be, just like these flowers. To bloom and not feel stressed, anxious or pressured. Their essence is to calm.
There have been many discussions on what is beautiful and what is not. It has led to this work being inspired mainly by the idea of the beauty standard throughout time. The figure has elongated limbs, its legs are almost taller and more voluminous than the torso, yet the body is muscular. This juxtaposes between two bodies, yet the tallness in the arms becomes skinny as they go lower. You can purchase this art here in print or the whole item.
It is as though time changes, and we gain different opinions on what’s beautiful. But the question this work asks is, “Who decides what we should look like?” and “Why can’t we just be who we want to be?”. Its existence references the countless amounts of influencers on the internet (and prior) who push these standards. These “standards” lead to toxic problems like eating disorders or anxiety.
The standards must be pushed away and broken down. The word standard is substantial and pushing; it’s a somewhat abusive word, to more exact. It’s something that forces you to be a certain way. Therefore, combating the standards can result in the destruction of force and the triumph of freedom and choice.
The piece’s medium is in ballpoint pen, but there is also a charcoal version (in A3) of this artwork. What started as an idea is seemingly stretching out into becoming a series of works targeting the beauty standards of today’s world.
WHAT IS REALLY THE BEAUTY STANDARD? (CHARCOAL)
This is the much more defined and thought-out version of the original sketch though this is my process behind turning a sketch into a painting. Thus muscles are more defined and dark, and the body morphs outwards.
Visual Angle (2022) is a black and white ballpoint pen on-paper drawing or sketch with the subject of an abstract work. You can purchase this work in print or buy the entire sketch.
Inspired by my old attempts to recreate colouring books (though I have non published them!) I wanted to create a more detailed and filled-in version of one of them. Multiple patterns line the A5 sheet and spring their spirits out. The patterns give life and an abstract aesthetic to work.
White space fits the pattern “bubble” in the middle. Serving as a calm space. Letting the clustered region explode and be contained within itself. Thus juxtaposing itself.
I chose pen and paper as they were simply the only available tools. Sometimes you have to work with a minimum amount of tools which can bring a piece alive.
Unlike my other works, this one doesn’t have a standard interpretation. It is a world of its own and creates its own story with whoever views it. Though if it was hung in your room or a print on a wall, it could de-congest your space. This contrast may work in a larger room within the white space.
POPPY (2022) was created after finishing the JUNIPER (2022) painting; it inspired me to create not a painting of leaves and sticks but instead of a flower. After blocking the canvas with a blue pigment stick, I waited until it dried to add sticks for the background bush and some floating leaves. These serve as the background in this work’s slightly fauvist-inspired art theme.
Though initially, I would have turned the grass into a more opaque and fuller stroke, I started to like the rather faint strokes produced when painting on a dry canvas. The painting is a complementary piece to JUNIPER (2022) as a series of two paintings.
I felt that there was no message but therapy. This painting helped soothe my nerves when suffering from an anxiety or panic attack. It’s okay if the work has no meaning if it helps to calm you down. Maybe it’s there to feel aesthetic and connected to the world in creating new life through the painting.
We, humans, are creative, and this painting embraces that. It allows my spirits to flow free onto the canvas creating a replica of my imagination. This replica pulls out toxins from my head, metaphorically, and creates a new sense of belonging.
This painting was completed when the Juniper trees were growing- and they’re beautiful. Therefore, I wanted to instil the calm from the tree into the canvas. I first painted from a reference of a picture I had taken, then wiped the whole canvas smearing the entire paint into a blur. Afterwards, I painted over it again, reinterpreting what was once there without reference. Creating a new entire painting; that might not be juniper anymore but pulls a calming feel towards the surface as the previous layers are harmonious with the new creation.
The materials used were oil sticks/pigment sticks on canvas. I used a palette knife to smear the entire painting. After smearing it, I painted the layer above while wet with only a white paint stick, then let it dry to give it a lighter feel for the next layer.
Like my previous paintings, they have thick strokes in an impasto style. This adds depth and uses natural lighting to add detail to the painting. It also allows for history to be seen. The original painting is still slightly visible through the top. The lower it goes, the older it gets.
Tree (2022) is an artwork by Joshua Obara Norwood – an abstract expressionist style with oil pigment sticks over a wooden canvas. The work is full of distorting previous layers, scratching into the surface, and then painting over it again with the pigment. These methods create a history with the idea of creating a mysterious shady tree in the painting.
Abstract Expressionist Oil Stick on Panel (Pigment on Wooden Panel)
It is supposed to be hung with the other painting, “JUNCTION I“, which showcases a chaotic metro look. This painting is calm yet slightly chaotic, which adds to the illusion of stability that both give. Perhaps- we’re not stable, and we all have a bit of chaos and calm within us. These are human emotions transcribed into a painting and manipulated so that anything or everything can suddenly be wiped away. A wipe with clay modelling tools creates a swipe. Unconventional tools are used as life is not convenient.
These paintings that Joshua does are painted over several days. Every new layer adds a new form of history as multi-faceted, like a person. You can find his art on sale over here.
JUNCTION I is an artwork by Joshua Obara Norwood– it is an abstract work created with oil sticks (pigment sticks), encaustic wax and soy wax on a canvas.
Oil stick, encaustic and wax on canvas. 50cmx60cm
This painting symbolises our symbiosis between a fast-paced life and a hectic internal battle over anxiety.
The process behind it started when I was drunk. Using oil sticks, painting a scene, and then smudging everything together with a white stick. Then while still wet, I scraped the canvas with a tweezer. An unusual tool to use.
These marks were done while drunk; everything is spontaneous and acted out on the internal thoughts you have that come out when drunk.
Two days pass, and it’s dried. I mix soy wax with non-toxic dyes. Then heat it up, throw it at the canvas, and manipulate it.
The manipulation was fast to explore the idea and theme of a fast-paced modern life using junctions and trains. It relates entirely to our feelings when we’re anxious and drunk. Everything races around and feels terrible.
All unused wax that was melted; was repurposed into a jar which I would use as a candle to reduce waste.
His blog shows many other different artworks with similar themes! Be sure to check the rest of his work out!