By Mercedes Ortuño Lizarán
Madrid, May 4 (efe-epa).- Yoshitomo Nara’s mysterious kawaii girls are his most recognizable work, but the first monograph to be published about the artist unveils the depth of his creative vision which taps into sculpture, ceramic art and poetry.
Stories, anecdotes and personal photographs converge amid almost 400 illustrations in the Phaidon book which has been signed by art curator and professor Yeewan Koon.
The monograph gives an in-depth account of Nara who became a prominent representative of the Superflat movement and grew to become one of the most sought after Japanese artists in auctions.
“I have begun to experience daily that there are people who love and care for my work even more than myself,” Nara told Efe in an interview.
The sharing of unpublished works in the book is his way of thanking the support he has received, a “pure public” as he described fans, so they can understand the human being behind the simple work, Nara says.
Trained at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, the artist became well known in the early 2000s within a generation of avant-garde Japanese creators, like Takashi Murakami, linked to the neopop Superflat movement.
A few years before global success, Nara had already begun to develop some of his most characteristic works.
The Girl with the Knife in Her Hand (1991) marked the beginning of a long series of iconic and recognizable paintings of girls with big heads and sinister gazes, an aesthetic he continues to champion today.
One of the latest additions to his army of dark portraits is one of a teenage girl with braids holding the banner that made Greta Thunberg famous: Skolstrejk för klimatet (School Strike for Climate).
“When I heard about Greta, I felt that I had always tried to create a portrait of a girl like her, even before I met her. In fact, even before she was born,” Nara said of the drawing in which he does not capture Greta Thunberg, but rather “all the young people who are like her in the world”.