Nara Yoshitomo is showing a few of his newest works at Galerie Johnen in Berlin.
I went to the opening night and would like to share my impression:
Nara-san is an artist with a high recognition value. His – on the first glimpse – sweet little girls, seemingly one-dimensional large faces (suddenly going three-dimensional), huge eyes, roundish hair are in fact full of cultural, political and social commentary. May it be the answer to a question about “World Peace”: “Love or Nuclear?” – provocative. The artist himself named his favourite piece: “Social Distortion”. In this the pencil strokes of the front hair and the eyes hidden beneath are so thick that the paper started to undulate.
Two pieces I really liked are Little treasure and Tears of Rage.
Little treasure – a star, sprinkles on a plain off-white overpainted, ripped cardboard, a girl curiously looking, coloured only the face – rosy cheeks – arms, abstract little hands reaching for the sparkling
Tears of Rage – especially strong – at first glance the typical Nara-girl, but crying, tears on and below the right eye. On a further look: squinted eyes, dark with a yellow sprinkle deep within, the white rather reddish. Thin thin arms, straight down – the hands not in sight – forces the observer to imagine little, clenched fists. Considering the student protesters – SEALD – in Japan right now it could be as much as a commentary as it could in relation to Nara-sans years long fight against nukes.
And a last word on the artist himself: Still looking pretty much like a punk with an old basecap and a shy smile, bringing canned beer & a relaxed atmosphere in this bright perfect place with its good bottled beer & good wine (in glasses) & good water (in glasses) – like an antithesis to the surface of his paintings of cute little girls. But the devil hides in the detail and I always loved details.