Yoshitomo Nara

About Artist: Japanese painter, sculptor and draughtsman. He studied at the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music (1985–7) and then continued his studies at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf (1988–93). Nara was born and raised in a rural area of Japan and, as a child of working parents, he spent much of his time alone with only his imagination, comic books and family pets as company. The paintings, drawings and sculptures of seemingly innocent, wide-eyed children and dogs that have become his trademark are an attempt to capture this childhood sense of boredom and frustration and recapture the fierce independence natural to children. His paintings and drawings have a childlike simplicity that is reminiscent of traditional book illustration, but the works also have a restlessness and tension that is influenced, in part, by Nara’s love of punk rock, and is reinforced with such titles. Nara’s earliest paintings are simple and straightforward with thick, bold lines and primary colours. In these early works, children and animals often share space on the canvas with fragments of text and painted props, such as tiny knives, toys and cardboard boxes. His paintings evolved until his subject-matter was reduced to its essentials—simplified child and animal figures, with piercing gazes, staring out at the viewer from an otherwise empty canvas.

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