703 xl
Upcoming exhibition

Yoshitomo Nara

06.28.2024 - 11.03.2024

Yoshitomo Nara is one of the most celebrated artists of his generation. His work is widely recognized for its bold, cartoon-like images of children with large heads and big, engaging eyes—at times menacing, challenging, and defiant, or else melancholic, and uncertain, but, over the years, increasingly calm and meditative. Nara was not immediately accepted in the art world, but his pioneering, graphic style is now well established.

Nara’s characters—his figures, animals, and hybrid beings—are a representation of himself. They provide a visual expression of his innermost thoughts and emotions and convey the depth of his humanism. The sources of Nara’s creativity are his deeply-etched memories of childhood; his knowledge of music and literature; Japanese and European art history, fostered by his boundless curiosity; and his empathetic and galvanizing encounters with people and cultures through his travels in Japan and abroad.

Nara has a long-standing love of folk, rock, and underground punk music and is renowned for his free-spirited attitude. His engagement with humanity and society is profound, and, with strongly-held views on the world we share, his work examines and incorporates ideas surrounding concepts of home, community, nature, and the environment, and their interconnectedness.

Born in 1959 in suburban Hirosaki, in northern Japan, Nara went on to study painting at the University of the Arts in Aichi. In the late 1980s, he moved to Germany to attend the prestigious Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. He would remain in Germany for twelve years and during this time he continued to develop his unique pictorial language. In 2000 Nara returned to Japan, where he continues to live and work today. His art relates directly to his own history and lived experiences. At its core are the lasting memories from his childhood in Japan—predominantly his feelings of loneliness—and from his time spent abroad, with the familiar sense of isolation he knew in Germany, where he did not speak the language.

This retrospective exhibition is not displayed chronologically. Nara has purposefully planned it to present his works within themes that communicate their underlying personal and emotional foundations. His intention is to reveal who he is as an artist and the ideas that interest him and are central to his creative process: his recurring motifs, his evolving formal approach, and his varied techniques.

This exhibition takes us on a journey through the intriguing “World of Nara,” presenting work made over the last four decades. Nara’s imagery is original and enduring. It demonstrates the continuity of memory he has sustained throughout his career and serves to highlight his stylistic development. First and foremost, Nara views himself as a painter, but he explores each theme within a range of other mediums and formats—drawing, sculpture, and installation.

Gallery: 105
Curator: Lucía Agirre
Venues: Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; Frieder Burda Museum, Baden-Baden; Hayward Gallery-Southbank Centre, London

Yoshitomo Nara
In the Deepest Puddle II, 1995
Acrylic on cotton mounted on canvas
120 x 110 cm
Takahashi Collection
© Yoshitomo Nara, courtesy Yoshitomo Nara Foundation