Drawings : 1988~2018
Last 30 years

Yoshitomo Nara

February 9, 2018 – March 8, 2018
GALLERY HOURS :11:00 – 19:00
RECEPTION:Friday, February 9, 18:00 – 20:00

Nara’s studio, 2007
photo : Yoshitomo Nara

A Message from Takashi Murakami

Kaikai Kiki Gallery is pleased to announce the representation of Yoshitomo Nara (b. 1959), one of the finest artists representing contemporary Japan. We will be presenting two solo exhibitions of his work in 2018 at our gallery space in Motoazabu, Tokyo, as well as featuring his work at our special solo exhibition booth at Art Basel Hong Kong. (Incidentally, 2018 is Kaikai Kiki Gallery’s tenth anniversary milestone!)

Although our artistic expressions manifest themselves differently, Nara and I agree that we share spirituality as artists. At Kaikai Kiki Gallery, then, we plan to present his work in a way the artist finds unique among his commercial galleries; one in which Nara looks back on his own trajectory so far and reaffirms his core values as an artist.

For the past thirty-odd years since his debut in 1984, Nara has been standing firm in the art scene with his unique position, carrying on his dialogues with people all over the world using his distinctive grammar. While it is his work’s proximity to Japanese manga and kawaii culture that is often noted, he has in fact been cultivating empathy with people from all walks of life through his profound knowledge of music and its grammar, East and West alike. As a result, he has a wide fan base that includes those who are not particularly familiar with art in addition to hard core art aficionados. His popularity in Asia is especially tremendous, and its powerful effect can be observed in heated auction results.

As though finding the overheated market distasteful, however, in the past few years Nara has avoided public appearances and his recent style indicates his increasing withdrawal into his own world. Having said that, in November 2017 he opened N’s YARD, a space that showcases, among other things, his own work as well as his cherished collections and records, in Nasushiobara, a resort area in central Japan, and is starting to explore a newly distinctive style of communication.

Our task in representing Nara at Kaikai Kiki Gallery, we believe, is to assist him realize his complex thoughts and wishes in a tangible manner in the market. To be specific, we hope to divert his attention away from his repulsion toward resellers and allow him to once again freely communicate with his true fans. Our hope, that is, for Nara to spread his wings of imagination to their absolute fullest. Such is our aspiration as Kaikai Kiki Gallery starts to represent Yoshitomo Nara.

Takashi Murakami

A Message from the Artist

Okay then, let me write a bit about drawing.

Looking back to when I was little, I recall myself preferring to draw with a single pencil. I think I was able to draw whatever I wanted with a pencil. Maybe all children are like that. It didn’t matter where I drew. I did it during classes, on the side of a street on my way home from school, and of course at home. Drawing, for me, was different from other things like watercolor we were made to paint at school in that I drew things I thought of or wanted to say as though I were putting them in words or letters. Sometimes I did add some words as well, but they weren’t exactly what you’d call a picture diary, either. In any case, for me, these turned out to be the point of origin for my drawing, the practice that I continue to this day.

In this show, I am going to survey the panoramic view of my past thirty years, from when I was a student up to the present, contemplating the relationship between drawing and myself, or how I have been getting along with it over time. There are pieces that capture my feelings and thoughts at a given time or momentary ideas I’ve had. Some are accumulations of drawings accompanied by words, and others are simply traces of my hand’s motion holding a pencil. These drawings are done with a pencil or a ball point pen that happened to be there in that moment, in varying techniques, as casually as breathing itself.

This is a little, no, quite a bit different from the modes of expressions you learn at art schools; it’s an artistic expression that is an extension of what I have been doing since childhood. Perhaps I wasn’t able to adequately express myself in words. But no, these drawings are filled with smug confidence that a drawing can better convey my feelings than any words can. This exhibition presents such drawings made in the span of thirty years.

What kind of place will I end up occupying in art history, I wonder? Perhaps I may leave no mark in history, or maybe my drawings are what I create somewhere removed from such concerns. They are so matter-of-factly private, an “idiotic discharge of emotion” as a certain famous critic once pointed out (what’s wrong with that, anyway?), yet at times they unflappably capture what I had intended to.

Yes, that is it. I have been drawing as though I were breathing. Or taking notes. Or thinking. That’s been my past thirty years. And I assume I will continue to do the same on the thirty-first year, thirty-second year, and so forth… yet actually, I also feel that perhaps I am walking, taking photos, or writing increasingly more than drawing these days. That’s why this exhibition, which exposes my thirty years’ worth of sighs and forces me to acknowledge them myself, is extremely meaningful.

Whether it’s a sigh or a gasp, a scream, or a yawn, I think I’ll greet my various selves in these drawings as though encountering them on a time machine.

“Been a while, my frozen feelings! But I’m not defrosting you guys! I’m just going to keep adding to your buddies!”

Yoshitomo Nara