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  • Provenance

    Stephen Friedman Gallery, London

  • Catalogue Essay

    ...where does the great effectiveness of Nara’s faces come from? How do they bring us under their spell? In short, almost all his faces include so-called ‘baby schema’, certain key stimuli in the physiognomy of the young – whether human or animal – that trigger an instinct...spherical head shapes, pudgy cheeks, high foreheads and disproportionately large eyes with underdeveloped mouths and noses. S.Trescher, 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog' in Lullaby Supermarket, Nurnberg, 2001, p. 15
    Emerging as one of the most significant Japanese artists to date,Yoshitomo Nara’s work is evocative and striking. Infusing his characters with either happiness and humour or sadness and sorrow, Nara’s oeuvre is one that combines both comical and vulnerable aspects in the depiction of his subject matters. If human or animal, painting or sculpture, Nara continually plays on the ideas of mixed emotions expressed by the portrayal of his characters. His works confront the juxtapositions of life, commenting on the innocence of children and the evil of the nature. Gaining prominence during the Pop art movement in the 90s, Nara has continued with his exploration of the image as metaphor for a Japanese controlled society of rigid language and social structure. His work encompasses his viewers and challenges them to see beyond the comical depiction of his characters.‘…the relative scale plays a role – that of the motif in relation to the format of the picture - as well as the objective scale, the actual size of the figure. Since the edge of the faces often project beyond the frame, the heads seem to burst out of it.Together with their increased convexity and incredible plasticity, the faces seem to protrude into the third dimension…They may be children's heads, but they are much larger than the heads of the adult viewers, causing viewers to feel very small…They are children left alone who awaken our pity and those who reject our affection and rebel against the adult world…’
    (S.Trescher, 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog' in Lullaby Supermarket, Nurnberg, 2001, p. 15 & 16)


Untitled (Portrait)

Acrylic on paper.
52.1 x 36.1 cm. (20 1/2 x 14 1/4 in).

Annotated in Japanese on the reverse.

£60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for £72,500

KYOBAI, Japanese Art and Culture

3 Apr 2008, 6pm