lives and works
BFA, Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts, Nagakute, Japan, 1985
MFA, Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts, Nagakute, Japan, 1987
Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany, 1993
about the artist
A contemporary Japanese artist who has achieved something of a global cult status, Yoshitomo Nara draws deceptively simple portraits of innocents—sometimes a child, sometimes a pet, sometimes both, where the child is bestowed with feline attributes or the dog is anthropomorphized with human expressions. Piece by piece, Nara lays down disjointed fragments of a collective childhood through painting on layer upon layer of diaphanous paint. Together they become a visual meditation on being a child—the freedom of being innocent yet unruly, vulnerable yet fearless. His children, though isolated and left imprisoned within the confines of his picture’s frames, boast a self-assurance laced with a covert aggression, even. They are mischievous and unpredictable, their power lying squarely in their perceived naïveté and spurious helplessness. Videos, books, magazines, and many other commercial products have been dedicated to Nara and his work; the tremendous popularity of these products attests to the communicability of his art and his pervasive influence over his audiences, locally and abroad. Numerous catalogues and monographs of his work have been published, and recently, a two-volume catalogue raisonné of all his sculptures, paintings, and drawings was completed. Nara has participated in many biennials and triennials all over the globe, and has held major solo exhibitions across continents. Large retrospectives include: I Don’t Mind If You Forget Me, which traveled within Japan between 2001 and 2002; Yoshitomo Nara: Nothing Ever Happens, which traveled across the United States from 2003 to 2005; and Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody’s Fool at the Asia Society in New York in 2010.