YOSHITOMO NARA (Japan, B. 1959)
YOSHITOMO NARA (Japan, B. 1959)

For Citizen

Details
YOSHITOMO NARA (Japan, B. 1959)
For Citizen
titled 'FOR CITIZEN' in English; signed with artist's signature; dated '98' (on the reverse)
acrylic and coloured pencil on cotton canvas
50 x 42 cm. (19 5/8 x 16 1/2 in.)
Painted in 1998
Provenance
Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Brought to you by

Eric Chang
Eric Chang

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Lot Essay

In For Citizen (Lot 121), a girl wearing celeste blue dress is holding a little knife, against a patchwork-like white background. She is the poster child for Yoshitomo Nara's beloved mischievous and frequently misunderstood youth. Adorable, irritated, innocent yet pranksterish, she wields her power with her wide-set green eyes with piercing gaze, chestnut hair and little knife clutched at her side.


For Citizen addresses a universal "scream" of alienation and rebellion that can be heard across generations and cultures. "The children in my works are not aggressive. With the knives, the kids can generate power over their lives. I'm not making art to give the viewer hope. I'm articulating or producing a scream for them…I'm expressing current conditions. The audience in Japan doesn't see my work as 'ooh it's so cute,'--it's more 'I get it, I understand it.' They say 'I know this child' or 'I was this child'". (Y. Nara, from 1998 interview held in conjunction with a show he participated at the University of Wisconsin)


Both self-perception and memories are fragmented and elusive - an idea visually reinforced by the painting's patchwork-like texture, which Nara created by adhering smaller pieces of canvas to the surface. To ponder the artist's intentions is no different from questioning ourselves, the constant search for answers is a reflection of our own need for certainty and reassurance. Isolation, awkwardness in connecting with the outside world are major themes in Nara's work and subject matter traditionally brushed under the rug in Japanese society. The familiarity allows for an empathic viewer to slip into the role of the child. Leveraging visual artifice to get at deeply existential truths, Nara embraces the manner in which the strangeness of childhood never truly leaves us.

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