Yoshitomo Nara biography in Biographies from the artzine on artrepublic.com
Yoshitomo Nara is one of Japan’s most popular contemporary artists. His works are shown in important galleries and museums around the world, but they can also be seen, on t-shirts, postcards, CD covers, skateboards and even yo-yos.
Paintings, drawings and sculptures of seemingly innocent, wide-eyed children and dogs have become his trademark. His paintings and drawings have a childlike simplicity that is reminiscent of traditional book illustration, but the works also have a restlessness and tension that is influenced, in part, by Nara’s love of punk rock.
In addition to painting and sculpture, Nara has created many drawings, usually hastily scribbled on the backs of postcards, used envelopes and other scraps of paper and often incorporate text in English, German, or Japanese. Unlike the composed surface of his paintings, his drawings are raw and immediate.
Nara and the Tokyo Pop art movement reflect the experiences of a generation of artists who grew up during the post-World War II economic boom in Japan that was characterized by, among other things, an influx of popular culture from the West, including the animation of Warner Bros and Walt Disney.
Nara was born and raised in a rural area of Japan and, as a child of working parents, he spent much of his time alone with only his imagination, comic books and family pets as company. He studied at the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music (1985–7) and then continued his studies at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf (1988–93).