Yoshitomo Nara: Recent Work
What role can memory and touch play in a healing process?
One of the most celebrated contemporary Japanese artists, Yoshitomo Nara makes work across mediums that draws on a range of sources, including music, literature, and childhood memories. Over nearly four decades Nara has developed a signature style that integrates features of Asian and Western culture, reflecting the artist’s movements around the globe.
This pair of recent works highlights two essential directions within Nara’s art practice. Painted portraits of solitary children hovering in empty space have been a recurring subject for him. While the children’s wide eyes suggest a youthful innocence, their demeanors brim with psychological complexity, alternately emitting loneliness, anger, and menace.
Nara embarked on ceramics later in his career, during a 2007 artist residency outside of Kyoto in the town of Shigaraki, the site of an ancient kiln in Japan. Inspired by this historic setting and his fellow residents, many of whom were accomplished artisans, Nara found his way to a new medium. In particular, his gourd-shaped vessels integrate his interests in three-dimensional form, painted imagery, and language into a single object.
Nara’s work in ceramics is further motivated by clay’s identity as a natural resource. This is revealed in the artist’s recollection that, following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and his ensuing doubt of art’s purpose, it was “wrestling a large piece of earth” with his hands that brought him back to his vocation.
FRONT exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art are presented by Richard and Michelle Jeschelnig, with additional support from the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation, Fleischner Family Charitable Foundation, the Louise H. and David S. Ingalls Foundation, and the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.
The Cleveland Museum of Art is proud to partner with FRONT International. All exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art are underwritten by the CMA Fund for Exhibitions. Major annual support is provided by the Womens Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Generous annual support is provided by an anonymous supporter, Dick Blum (deceased) and Harriet Warm, Dr. Ben H. and Julia Brouhard, Mr. and Mrs. Walter R. Chapman Jr., the Jeffery Wallace Ellis Trust in memory of Lloyd H. Ellis Jr., Leigh and Andy Fabens, Michael Frank in memory of Patricia Snyder, the Sam J. Frankino Foundation, Janice Hammond and Edward Hemmelgarn, Eva and Rudolf Linnebach, William S. and Margaret F. Lipscomb, Bill and Joyce Litzler, Carl and Lu Anne Morrison, Henry Ott-Hansen, Tim O’Brien and Breck Platner, Mr. and Mrs. Michael F. Resch, Anne H. Weil, and Claudia C. Woods and David A. Osage.