Sale 16805
Contemporary Art Asia: Including a Collection of Works by Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita
Online 18 - 25 September 2019

Considered one of the fathers of the Japanese Neo-Pop movement, Yoshitomo Nara is highly acclaimed for his trademark cartoon-like illustrations of young children. Since his childhood, Nara was greatly influenced by Western pop culture and cartoons, such as Walt Disney, that emerged in Japan during the post-war period. In 1985, Nara entered the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music, where he received his BFA and MFA. He then moved to Germany to receive training at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf. Starting from 2001, Nara was associated with artist Takashi Murakami’s Superflat movement which stemmed from the Japanese pre-modern “flat” 2D style and drew inspiration from Western pop culture as well as Japanese anime to represent the progressively consumerist society. Nara was also attracted to neo-expressionism and the subversive, rebellious individualism that punk rock offered.

Yoshitomo Nara’s distinctive aesthetic is easily recognized through his simple yet abstract treatment of the subject’s features. The protagonist’s face resembles that of a baby, with an underdeveloped nose and mouth that contrast the bulging, oversized eyes. The disproportionately large head seems to burst out of the frame and intrude the realm of the viewer, confronting us with the conundrum of whether the subjects reflect memories from childhood or mirror the increasingly modernized visual culture of our society. According to the artist, these connotations are spiritual, carrying religious and philosophical allusions.

As seen in lot Cosmic Girl, Nara’s recent works differ from his usual rendering of the young subjects which frequently display an innocent yet grouchy expression juxtaposed with violent motifs that indicate a sinister subtext. Instead, the young girl in Cosmic Girl reveals a calm, peaceful aura that is void of any extreme emotions. Through the memorable facial composition of the figures, Nara conveys a wide array of human emotions that invite the viewer to ponder on the psychological and sociological implications.

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