THINGSText: Hikaru Nakasuji

A collective book of Yoshitomo Nara has been published from Phaidon Press in the UK. This book retrospectively explores his life and career with commentary by art historian Yeewan Koon and featuring texts by Nara himself.

Cover of a book of Yoshitomo Nara

Speaking of Yoshitomo Nara, the first thing that comes to your mind may be the drawings of big-headed girls. Throughout this book, you can discover how this signature work was founded after many complications. It should become a valuable reference that comprehensively explains his life and career from childhood to school days. By following his career, we may take a closer look at how the world’s art scene changed.

“Untitled”, 1988, Acrylic, colored pencil, and pencil on paper, 295 × 210mm
“Untitled”, 1988, Colored pencil and pen on paper, overall, 370 × 275 mm

The book starts the story from where Nara was born and raised in Hirosaki, Aomori. Then it reports how he found his interest in art and enrolled at Musashino Art University in Tokyo. As mentioned in the chapter title, music was a great source of inspiration for Nara. There was a strong interaction between music and him, sometimes making drawings of album covers and incorporated song titles and lyrics into his work.。

“The Girl with the Knife in Her Hand”, 1991, Acrylic on canvas, 1,505 × 140 mm

Chapter two features big-headed girls. “The Girl with the Knife in Her Hand” was the seminal work marked the beginning of this particular series of paintings. It includes both innocent cuteness and satire. It was created at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf’s annual student exhibition in 1992. What a strange coincidence that this iconic work was found in a land distant from Japan, where Japanese contemporary art has not gained international recognition yet.

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