coloured pencil and graphite on envelope
918 x 658in. (23.1 x 16.3cm.)
Executed in 2003
Tomio Koyama, Tokyo.
Galerie Zink & Gegner, Munich.
Private Collection, Europe.
Y. Nara, Yoshitomo Nara: The Complete Works. Volume 2, Works on Paper, San Francisco 2011, no. D-2003-165 (illustrated in colour, p. 211).
Niigata, Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum, Painting in Our Time, 2003.
Special notice
Please note this lot is the property of a consumer. See H1 of the Conditions of Sale.
Brought to you by

Lot Essay

Drawn in coloured pencil on a found envelope, Hen-Shin (2003) exemplifies the playful, childlike imagination of Yoshitomo Nara. A little girl, outlined in Nara’s distinctive cartoonish style, poses in karate stance atop a building with multicoloured windows; she dwarfs the landscape around her, standing many times taller than the row of trees below. The work’s title – meaning ‘transformation’ or ‘transform’ – is the battle-cry shouted in the 1970s TV series Kamen Rider at moments when a character changes form. Fixing us with a wicked gaze, Nara’s subject seems to have undergone just such a metamorphosis, shifting from schoolgirl to superhero – or, perhaps, supervillain. Nara charges her with mischievous personality, her fantastical setting speaking of a rich interior life.

Nara was born in 1959 in Japan’s rural Aomori Prefecture. The daydreaming solitude of his youth was accompanied by the country’s rapid postwar economic development, and an influx of Western pop-culture influences from Disney animation to punk music. Nara’s art blends heartfelt nostalgia for the media that defined his childhood – record-sleeves, comic books, and shows like Kamen Rider – with echoes of the luminous, graphic space of pre-Renaissance painters like Giotto and Piero Della Francesca. Less slick than some of his anime-inspired contemporaries, Nara displays a considered, retro sensibility; Hen-Shin, transforming an envelope into an enchanted pictorial space, reflects his intimate focus on specific objects. ‘Of course, if you think back to the ’70s,’ he says, ‘information moved very differently. There was no Internet obviously and even the release date of albums in Japan could be delayed as much as six months. There was so much less information then. So imagine that kind of environment and having so little info and all you have is the music itself and you have the album cover, twelve inches square. I would just sit there, listen to the music, look at the art on the cover and I think I really developed my imagination through that’ (N. Hegert, ‘Interview with Yoshitomo Nara, ’Artslant, 18 September 2010).

Related Articles

Sorry, we are unable to display this content. Please check your connection.

More from
First Open: Post-War & Contemporary Art Online
Place your bid Condition report

A Christie's specialist may contact you to discuss this lot or to notify you if the condition changes prior to the sale.

I confirm that I have read this Important Notice regarding Condition Reports and agree to its terms. View Condition Report