• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2791

    Twentieth Century Art

    5 June 2008, Amsterdam

  • Lot 201

    Yoshitomo Nara (JAPANESE, B. 1959)

    Ohne Titel (Mädchen im Sumpf)

    Price Realised  


    Yoshitomo Nara (JAPANESE, B. 1959)
    Ohne Titel (Mädchen im Sumpf)
    signed and dated 'Yoshitomo Nara 95', and inscribed with title (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas laid down on plywood
    46.5 x 46.5 x 6 cm.

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    Yoshitomo Nara is the foremost practioner of the movement in Japanese Contemporary Art called Superflat. Superflat's ideal is to produce commercial, apparently innocent images of human figures, animals, and cyborgs in a style that is not influenced by the historical avant-gardes, whether Western or Japanese, but by ordinary pop culture and in specific Manga (Japanese popular comics) and Anime (Japanese animation). Typical for this generation - growing up in the midst of a society overflowing of information and commodities, defining selfhood through the differentiation of commercial brands - is the demonstration of an uncompromising selectivity about the precise size, composition and materials that will endow their artwork with a charismatic charm.

    In the cosmos of Nara we meet only children's images, mostly girls and a few dogs. What they have in common is that almost all the creatures in his paintings are alone and there seems no escape whatsoever from this loneliness. Most of the cute little girls have an evil-like expression on their faces and look like potential criminals. Being isolated and with their numerous injuries, covered with Band Aids, wrapped in bandages, maltreated and tormented, one can associate them with the perception of an extremely threatening world. Nara's portraits of children with a unique mixture of cuteness and threat reveal the defencelessness of an innocent spirit and the ability to hurt someone. With this sweetness on the surface, Nara's girls have a kind of candy coating that lets us swallow the bitter pills of life a little easier. Their piercing eyes fanthom one's deepest emotions; they're looking at us without rejection or anger from the depth of their injuries and loneliness. This brings in mind the potential of cruel and evil latent in the human heart and in this world. He crawls inside of us, disguised in cuteness, only to settle us up with even a more somber vision on this world.

    Nara's pictures seem to appear to portray the perspective of a child, they doubtlessly stem from the world and the knowledge of an adult. They seem exemplarily to embody the condition of contemporary humankind.
    "All grown-ups were once children, though few of them remember it." (Yoshitomo Nara, quoted in Over the Rainbow, Germany 2004, p.73)

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    Galerie Ferdinand van Dieten - d'Eendt, Amsterdam, where acquired by the present owner.