The ferocious rate that Yoshitomo Nara’s work vibrates at is anundeniable chord of resounding, rock and roll honesty. It is a bodyof work which embodies the soft as well as hard, the violent, theloving… it embraces all the facets of culture which have influencedits creator’s fertile imagination. From his first real art show in1984 to the present day Nara has produced a body of work unlike anyother modern artist and has cemented his position as one of theforemost artists of our time. Critic Josh Kun describes Nara’s workas a “punk rock visual articulation of what it feels like not to beseen and what it feels like to be so bored you don’t even careanymore.” This body of work, as large and as voracious as it is, haslong needed a worthy overview. – Zach Tutor
Get a glimpse of Yoshitomo Nara’s recent A to Z show in this clip from the documentary film “Traveling with Yoshitomo Nara”This is one of special videos that the director Koji Sakabe edited for iPod. Seeing Nara’s work in person is a unique experience, with little smokinggirls larger than thier onlookers, Nara’s huge oversized hand-sewn canvas patch work “plates,” tiny kinder-core crayon drawings, and his catalogued music ephemera.Here are a few other Nara films to check out, including last year’s show at the Hague, and Nara infused imagery in a Shonen Knife videos “Daydream Believer” and the ridiculous “Banana Chips.”
Since we last visited Yoshimoto Nara back in HF Vol. 11, the Japanese artist has made tremendous strides in both the prolific nature of his work as well as his popularity (perhaps eclipsed only by Japan’s favorite artistic import Murakami.) Our good friends over at Arrested Motion recently popped into the Park Avenue Armory to catch a glimpse at Nara’s upcoming retrospective at the Asia Society this coming September 9th. Featuring a variety of collaborative works with compatriot YNG, this preview provides a compelling glance into some of the works as well as the soon to be revisited “Home” installation, last seen in 2005.
You may recognize So Youn Lee from our posts about her ethereal pen drawings and candy-colored paintings. Her new work is progressively character based- following a young space explorer named “Mango” through strange environments that echo childhood memories. At her Los Angeles studio, she sketches daily and experiments with motifs, from the abstract shapes of Korean folk textiles to the hyper-real balloons of Jeff Koons. A Japanese art influence is definitely there as well. Among Lee’s favorite artists are Aya Takano and Yoshitomo Nara, and she is an avid Manga reader. Most of the pieces shown here were created as an exercise, but seem to have left a lasting impression. We went behind the scenes to learn more about So Youn Lee’s new direction and her future plans.
Often depicted as bored, restless youngsters, Hebru Brantley’s solitary heroes exist between two worlds: their mundane realities and their boisterous imaginations, which Brantley depicts as a cacophony of black-and-white characters and scribbled text. Sometimes the imaginary layer of the work is kept to a quiet whisper, and other times it takes over the entire canvas and we know we are in the land of make-believe. There is a sense of naïveté in Brantley’s characters that evokes the child-like beings of Yoshitomo Nara. Like Nara, Brantley’s work appears flat at a first glance, but is executed with painterly, thick brushstrokes that add a sense of depth and dimension. Having exhibited extensively throughout the US, the artist recently unveiled his UK debut, “Everyone’s Everything” at Mead Carney Fine Art in London. At their core, the paintings in the exhibition are a love letter to the imagination, and an invitation for the viewers to tap into a childlike sense of wonder in themselves.
The Internet has changed the art world immensely, and Giant Robot has been there to witness and evolve alongside it. Conceived as a humble, photocopied zine focused on Asian American arts and culture in 1994, Giant Robot now exists as an unclassifiable entity. It was published as a magazine for 16 years and later manifested in the physical realm as an art gallery and shop, as well as a website. To celebrate its 20 years, Giant Robot 2 in LA will debut “Giant Robot Presents: 20 Years Art x Mags,” an extensive group show featuring many established and emerging talents. Among the line-up are Yoshitomo Nara, Takashi Murakami, Ryan McGinness, Geoff McFetridge, Yoskay Yamamoto, Jeff Soto, James Jean and a great number of other artists. “#GR20Years,” as the show is nicknamed, opens March 15, 5 – 10 pm, and will be on view through April 2.