Yoshitomo Nara

Yoshitomo Nara
September 16 – October 31, 2015

Exhibition view: Yoshitomo Nara, Johnen Galerie, Berlin, 2015

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view: Yoshitomo Nara, Johnen Galerie, Berlin, 2015

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view: Yoshitomo Nara, Johnen Galerie, Berlin, 2015

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view: Yoshitomo Nara, Johnen Galerie, Berlin, 2015

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view: Yoshitomo Nara, Johnen Galerie, Berlin, 2015

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view: Yoshitomo Nara, Johnen Galerie, Berlin, 2015

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view: Yoshitomo Nara, Johnen Galerie, Berlin, 2015

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Yoshitomo Nara

Yoshitomo Nara
Johnen Galerie, Berlin
September 16 – October 31, 2015
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Johnen Galerie is pleased to present Yoshitomo Nara’s sixth solo exhibition with the gallery. The exhibition will include new paintings on canvas, on wood and on cardboard and a number of drawings. It is the artist’s first exhibition in Germany since 2008. 

Best known for his images of large-eyed children, often melancholy, mischievous and / or roguish, against an ostensibly uniform background, Nara’s representations are neither realistic nor entirely cartoonish. Despite the misleadingly simple array of distinguishing marks—disproportionally large head, simplified, often elongated limbs, a face with enormous eyes, a smallish mouth and the suggestion of a snub nose—the figures register as individuals with distinct personalities (even if these remain elusive). 

Nara’s influences are far-reaching, encompassing apart from Western and Japanese modern art, children’s picture books, literature, graphics, record jackets, photography, and music. Chief among them are children’s books and fairy-tales from his youth, both classics such as Hans Christian Anderson, Brother’s Grimm or Aesop’s fables, as well as Japanese fairy-tales from the 1940s and 1950s. 

Another major influence on the development of his oeuvre has been the artist’s fascination with music, especially folk music, but also Rock Music and Punk. The punk movement’s celebration of the non-professional, rough and unpolished has had a lasting influence on Nara’s practice. References to lyrics from these sources recur in his works.
 

While the imagery has sometimes been associated with biographical aspects of the artist’s life—having grown up in postwar Japan in the first generation of so-called latchkey kids—the solitary figures are to be understood as allegorical representations: symbols of the dynamic of childhood, the workings of children’s minds, their imagination, immediacy and depth of feeling. As embodiments the figures evoke an emotional response and often also a narrative subtext.

Nara’s work is infused by a belief in the universality of popular cultures and by the desire to create a new, living popular art, akin to a “folk” art for today, inspired by contemporary everyday life. In addition, the format of Nara’s paintings and its emotional evocativeness have been compared to religious imagery and devotional pictures. 


Luminously painted, the works appear deceptively plain in reproduction. Many layered, the paintings are created in a dialogue between the painter and his subject, interrogating his motif. 

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