Yoshitomo Nara’s “New Works” Characterizes Alienation, Anger and Curiosity

by Sasha BogojevPosted on

Stephen Friedman gallery in London is currently showing their fourth solo exhibition with acclaimed Japanese artist, Yoshitomo Nara, covered here. Following his recent solo exhibitions at Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan, Asia Society Museum, New York, Asia Society Hong Kong Center and Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland, “New Works” is the simple title of the current exhibition by one of the most important living contemporary Japanese artists.

Consisting of new paintings on canvas, paintings on cotton mounted wood panels and works on paper, Nara continues his recognizable style that characterizes alienation, anger and curiosity. Though often associated with Japanese pop culture, anime and manga, his work is greatly influenced by the post-war Japan and growing up in the rural north of the country, reading illustrated children’s books and listening to Western music from the radio of a nearby military base. These inputs resulted in creation of complex child-like characters, battling serious emotional states, often wide-eyed, smoking, swearing and listening to punk rock.

For this showing, Nara painted new paintings on canvas, ‘billboard paintings’ (patched cotton mounted on wood panel) and a series of drawings on paper. The new paintings are more painterly than his previous works, more colorful and containing subtle layering. The ‘billboard paintings’ are in contrast to canvas works, more flat and featuring iconic or catchy imagery, while the drawings are the most natural for the artist. “Without being conscious of the eventual audience, I usually follow my emotions and just draw. For this show, I am exhibiting a series of drawings that I think of as being mental images without color. It is probably the first time that I have shown so many of these drawings all at once,” says the artist about his work.

Concurrent with his solo exhibition, the gallery is showing a group show “Horizon That Appears Out of The Sleepy Woods” curated by Yoshitomo Nara, featuring works by Yusuke Asai, Takanobu Kobayashi, Kyoko Murase and Syozo Taniguchi. Each of the included artists is working in and around Tokyo, who have never exhibited in London before.

Yoshitomo Nara is a featured artist in the Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose Exhibition- tickets on sale now.

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