Yoshitomo Nara b. 1959

One of the most popular contemporary artists in Japan, Yoshitomo Nara is best known for his sinister imagery of children and animals. His flat, two-dimensional characters display a range of negative emotions evoking anger, sadness, even revenge while remaining vulnerable to the viewer. Provocative in nature, the children typically wield objects such as knives and cigarettes, seemingly posing contrast to the rigidness of Japanese social constructs.

Nara was born and raised in a rural village of northern Japan. Nature, music, and the solitude of his childhood had a profound impact on how he sees the world and the viewpoint he brings to his work. After graduating with his MFA from the Aichi Prefectural University of the Arts, Japan he studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf during the late 1980s. He remained in Germany after graduation in 1993 and opened a studio in Cologne. Nara has been exhibiting his paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, and collections of merchandise featuring his characters internationally since 2000. Nara has published multiple books throughout his career including The Lonesome Puppy (2008), a children’s book, and the Yoshitomo Nara Photo Book 2003-2012 (2012), a collection of ephemera from his life and travels.

His work is held in the esteemed collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Museum of Art in Osaka, the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Malaga, Spain among many others. He currently lives and works in Tokyo.

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