Yoshitomo Nara is among the most beloved Japanese artists of his generation. His widely recognizable super stylized portraits may appear “cute” on the surface a closer examination will exhibit a complex range of expressions reflecting the artist’s encounters with his inner self. A peripatetic traveler, Nara’s oeuvre takes inspiration from a wide range of resources—memories of his childhood, music, literature, studying and living in Germany, exploring his roots in Japan, Sakhalin, and Asia, and modern art from Europe and Japan.
Spanning over 30 years from 1987 to 2020, Yoshitomo Nara views the artist’s work through the lens of his longtime passion—music. Featuring album covers Nara began collecting as an adolescent, paintings, drawings, sculpture, ceramics, an installation that recreates his drawing studio, and never-before-exhibited idea sketches that reflect the artist’s empathic eye, this exhibition shines a light on Nara’s conceptual process. One of the main highlights will be Miss Forest, a 26-foot outdoor painted bronze sculpture that will grace Wilshire Boulevard.
Throughout the exhibition, the focus on Nara’s inspiration in music recurs in works both sketched and drawn and in many of the featured and famous highlights. Be sure to listen to the Exhibition Soundtrack, created to accompany Yoshitomo Nara’s work My Drawing Room (2008), the artist selected songs that reflect his love of 1960s and ʼ70s singer-songwriters, who he began listening to as an adolescent and whose work greatly influenced his own.