Yoshitomo Nara - New Now & Design Hong Kong Sunday, November 26, 2023 | Phillips
  • “They say human eyes are the mirror of the soul, and I used to draw them too carelessly. Say, to express the anger, I just drew some triangular eyes. I drew obviously-angry eyes, projected my anger there, and somehow released my pent-up emotions.”
    — Yoshitomo Nara


    Executed in 2002, Untitled (Who Snatched the Babies) portrays two childlike figures set against a clean white background of an opened, empty envelope, and was exhibited at the Centre National de l'estampe et de l'art imprimé in Paris for the exhibition Who snatched the babies? Yoshitomo Nara in 2002. The artwork is a unique piece in the series as it shows two of Nara’s rarely seen characters — a boy with extremely short hair in the background and a girl sweating tremendously in the foreground — smoking cigarettes while watching a movie together. One can still recognize Nara’s iconic style such as flashes of light radiating from the eyes and the simple bold lines. 

    From 2001 to 2002, Nara worked on the series Who Snatched the Babies which is inspired by elements from popular culture and depicts innocent children behaving in an inappropriate or mischievous way. In the series, recurring elements such as plants, carboard boxes, the use of texts, and little girls holding knives are drawn on postcards, scraps of paper, and envelopes to reflect the raw feelings that are present in daily life. Yoshitomo is a central figure of the Japanese neo-Pop movement, and his works often reflect the anxiety to find an identity under turbulent times caused by wars, urbanization, and disturbing cultural environment that was particularly prevalent at the turn of the century in Japan.

    • Provenance

      Pace Gallery, Geneva
      Private Collection
      Sotheby's, London, 15 October 2022, lot 332
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Paris, Centre National de l'estampe et de l'art imprimé, Who snatched the babies?, 2 June - 29 September 2002, (illustrated, n.p.)

    • Literature

      Noriko Miyamura and Shinko Suzuki, eds., Yoshitomo Nara: The Complete Works Volume 2: Works on Paper 1984-2010, Tokyo, 2011, no. D-2002-173, p. 373 (illustrated, p. 191)


Untitled (Who Snatched the Babies)

colour pencil and graphite on envelope
11.4 x 16.7 cm. (4 1/2 x 6 5/8 in.)
Executed in 2002.

Full Cataloguing

HK$300,000 - 400,000 

Contact Specialist

Angela Tian
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now & Design Sale
20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
+852 2318 2058

New Now & Design

Hong Kong Auction 26 November 2023