Yositomo Nara - A Bit Like You And Me
A new exhibition of works by Yoshitomo Nara is drawing to a close at the Yokohama Museum of Art in Japan. It will then go on tour through the rest of the year and until April 2013. It is the first time Nara has presented a large bronze, in the form of a bust with the characterised childlike face that Nara is known for titled Wicked Looking.
The exhibition has been hailed as putting the "heart back into art" by contemporary commentators in Japan, with his characters across painting, sculpture and installation coming across as simple messages conveyed with warmth. Nara has been criticised in the past for being too simple and with the naive style not playing into the hands of high brow art critics, it is likely to be easily dismissed. But this exhibition has more emotional investment by the artist, as described in his statement about the new collection, with his approach to it being influenced by his age (now 53), the highs and lows of his successes and failures and even the impact of the 2011 earthquake.
Nara's work doesn't need the intellectual crutch of the Superflat theory. It stands aside from that and whilst viewed as part of it, due to it being from Japan and at the same time as Murakami's practice, it comes from a different place. Nara is all too familiar with the criticism his work faces, "Like or dislike, the works I create are no longer self-portraits, rather they are someone more like somebody’s child or friend. It is my hope that they will belong to the audience, or eventually even hold a place within the history of art; even after my body is perished, and as long as human beings exist.
My works are thus independent entities “a bit like myself,” no longer self-portraits, yet still, I cannot relinquish them entirely to my audience. I often hear many people say while looking at my work, “Oh, this is me!” I have come to accept this phenomenon as long as their self-projection is introspective rather than merely visual and superficial. However, a part of me still feels that I am the parent who gave birth to my works. Therefore, my works are “a bit like me” and “a bit like you.” They are certainly “a bit like you and me” and yet each of them has its own self, being “a work of art for its own sake.”
During my creation process, however, my work and I are still together as one, and the audience and criticism are far away. So it is only the heroes in the posters on my wall and outdated figures on display in the shelf of my studio that know the intimate exchange that goes on between my works and me."
Exhibition info link