Yoshitomo Nara - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Thursday, July 9, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    Yoshitomo Nara : Ukiyo, Tokyo, 1999, n.p. (illustrated)
    Nara Yoshitomo: Lullaby Supermarket, Tokyo, 2001, pp. 66-71 (illustrated)
    Noriko Miyamura and Shinko Suzuki, eds., Yoshitomo Nara: The Complete Works Volume 1: Paintings, Sculptures, Editions, Photographs 1984-2010, Tokyo, 2011, no. E-1999-001-E-1999-016, pp. 308-309 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Ukiyo-e portrait print
    of kubuki actor
    Ichikawa Ebizō

    Katsushika Hokusai
    The Great Wave off Kanagawa, c. 1831
    Collection of the British Museum, London
    As a pioneering figure in contemporary art, Japanese visual artist Yoshitomo Nara is renowned for his multidisciplinary practice that explores themes of solitude, spirituality, and childlike rebellion. In the Floating World presents the viewer with altered reproductions of sixteen famous woodblock prints from the traditional Japanese genre of Ukiyo-e. Widely popular during the Edo period (1603-1868), Ukiyo-e artists created works that showcased the joie de vivre attitude of the people and environments in the cities’ pleasure districts. In particular, this included sumo-wrestlers, courtesans, warriors, teahouse mistresses, and other characters from the literature and folklore of the time. Nara’s versions share unique tales of their own, as he infuses traditional aesthetics with his prolific artistic vision to offer new interpretations, such as in the reworked woodcut by Chōkōsai Eishō where the head of the courtesan Shiratsuyu is replaced with that of a mischievous child, and the courtesan’s hairpins have been substituted for nails dripping in blood. Some of the appropriated prints are humorous whilst others offer a more critical social comment, led by protagonists who are rendered in Nara’s signature cartoon-esque aesthetic, with looks of defiance, melancholy, or confusion on their otherwise too-cute faces. As embodied in the playful nature of the present work, is through these subjects that Nara has enthralled the imaginations and garnered the respect of museums, collectors, and a loyal following worldwide.

Property from an Important Japanese Collection


In the Floating World (set of 16)

each signed, numbered and dated '50/50 Nara [in Japanese] '99' lower edge
reworked woodcut colour xerox on paper
each 41.3 x 28.5 cm. (16 1/4 x 11 1/4 in.)
Executed in 1999, this work is number 50 from an edition of 50.

HK$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for HK$2,000,000

Contact Specialist
Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 9 July 2020