Yoshitomo Nara has worked with a range of media since the 1980s, including drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, and installation. He started studying at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1988 and would stay in Germany working as an artist until 2000. Upon his return to Japan that year, he had solo shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Santa Monica Museum of Art, followed by another that toured five art museums in Japan in 2001. Nara is also known for his extensive knowledge and love of music, his collaborations with various other kinds of artists, and his style that transcends pop culture and contemporary art.
In his body of work, in which children and animals are frequently rendered in simplistic, abstract, and misshapen forms, such seemingly conflicting dispositions as affability and the sacred, or innocence and cruelty, are brought into symbiosis and inspire the imagination of the viewer. Recent years have seen Nara produce numerous portraits with a serene, spiritual aura. The solitary protagonists in Nara’s work are the mouthpieces of the weak and honest, and thus powerless in society, of those living on the margins or at the borders, and are expressions of a pure heart that continues to survive in a corner of the adult mind. With their depictions of the whereabouts of the soul, the portraits take on an almost primitive form that seems to cut across time.
The exhibits show the changes in the artist’s practice since his early period in the 1980s through to 2020, offering a comprehensive experience of Yoshitomo Nara’s creative world. In addition to some twenty early works, including fifteen displayed publicly for the first time, there is Voyage of the Moon (Resting Moon) / Voyage of the Moon (2006), a representative installation from the middle period of his career, when he engaged in collaborations and many other activities, large portrait paintings such as the new piece, Miss Moonlight (2020), and items from Nara’s own varied collection.