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  • 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.

     

     

    Ukiyo-e portrait print of kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizō, 1794

     

    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. The intriguing mixture of vulnerability, rebellion and eternal hopefulness within Nara’s artworks has gained him a cult following around the world, and this lot is an excellent example of how his unique and universally relatable artistic language strikes a resounding chord with people of all ages and backgrounds.

     

    • Provenance

      Galerie Zink, Waldkirchen
      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
      ,
      1794

      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.

185

In the Floating World (set of 16)

each signed, numbered and dated '19/50 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 19 from an edition of 50.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
HK$1,200,000 - 2,200,000 
€136,000-249,000
$154,000-282,000

Sold for HK$2,394,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2021