|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Yoshimoto (some spell it Yashitomo) Nara was born in 1959 in Hirosaki,
Japan and has exhibited extensively in the United States as well as
Japan and European countries. |
Using a style combining the
effect of Japanese prints and Pop Art cartoons, he paints solitary,
doll-like children to comment upon the decline of society, East and
West. To Nara, children symbolize a world marked by
confusion and anxiety about an unknown future. Since 1988, he has
divided his time between Japan and Germany, where he studied art.
He sees himself as a voluntary exile. Because art schools and
museums were conservative in Japan, Nara, also a sculptor working in a
similarly simplistic style, studied contemporary art on his own there
as a young man, eventually seeking exhibitions abroad.
describes his earliest years as a "latch key child," coming home alone
to his family's empty house. Nara's themes of childhood mixed
with irony take their source in Japanese comic books. In 1998
Nara commented, "so-called real art had lost its reality. It always
represented a mediated or reproduced experience as seen in books and
magazines. The real visual experiences I had as a kid were not from
looking at oil paintings but instead captured through reading my weekly
manga comics or watching cartoons on TV."
Nara's big headed,
wide-eyed little girls are larger than life, painted in pastel colors
on rectangular or rounded concave canvases. They puff on cigarettes,
brandish knives and guns, stand in boxes or fly in space cars,
sometimes in association with kimono-clad figures straight out of
Japanese prints, as if trying futilely to relate to an adult world or a
past traditional culture.
Nara exhibited in 2001 with
twenty-five other Post-Modernists in Public Offerings, a show put on by
the Geffen Contemporary branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los
Also in 2001, the Yokohama Museum of Art
put on a mid-career retrospective exhibition, "I Don't Mind If You
Forget Me", which toured Japan. Nara was also included in a
virtual exhibition, "Cream 3: 10 Curators - 100 Artists - 10 Source
Artists", in which ten curators selected ten artists each.
also depicts sad dogs and puppies in his art. A large fiberglass
public sculpture of a dog, aptly named Your Dog, stands in Tompkins
Square Park, on New York City's Lower East Side, creating a watering
station for other dogs from the tears falling from its eyes.
Other creative projects are artists' books and clothing lines that
feature his little girl and puppy designs.
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