Asia Society

Yoshitomo Nara spent an extended period of time in art schools in Japan (1979–87) and Germany (1988–93). In hindsight, however, it is almost as though he underwent formal education in order to rebel later against everything that schools are designed to teach, that is, the various conventions and definitions of art. His drawings and paintings are much more an embodiment of the youthful spirit of rebellion. In many works on paper from the 1990s, he has scrawled words that directly express anger, frustration, and the resolve to stand up to the challenges of life—words and phrases that reflect his longtime love of music and his adolescent dream of becoming a poet or a novelist. Nara often works out an emerging idea on paper, sketching on found scraps such as used envelopes and exhibition invitations. More importantly, these quick drawings and notes function as a personal diary that he returns to continually. The slang of some phrases may assume a sinister tone, but others serve more as an inspirational call to his audience and to himself, such as “Pave your own dreams!” and “Love, you’ve gotta love something.”

Paintings, on the other hand, depict the single figure of a child, who quietly yet firmly returns our gaze like a reflection in a mirror. Here, Nara’s rebellion is distinctly personal and private rather than social or political. Nara himself describes the frustration of contemporary youth, particularly in Japan, as something that cannot be articulated in words because there is no clear-cut adversary. Perhaps these children in his paintings, with their discomforting expressions, represent the small-scale struggles that individuals face in contemporary society.

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Foursquare and Asia Society

During the Yoshitomo Nara exhibition, Asis Society launched its first ever campaign
with Foursquare featuring 2 for 1 admission to the exhibition.

Check future exhibitions for similar deals and specials.