Observations: Dark delights from the lonely mind of Japanese genius Yoshitomo Nara
Friday 12 June 2009
Since he came to prominence during the Japanese pop art movement of the 1990s, the cult illustrator Yoshitomo Nara has intrigued, delighted and disturbed with his curious cast of wide-eyed, balloon-headed characters. These cutesy, cartoon-like creatures at first appear full of innocence and wonder, but on closer inspection reveal what could well be expressions of fearful malevolence. The overall effect is more than a little unnerving.
It is with some trepidation, then, that visitors may approach Nara's latest work, to be showcased at the Hayward's forthcoming Walking in my Mind exhibition. For the occasion, the London gallery will be transformed into a series of installations by 10 different artists, each expressing the "fundamental impulses, feelings, memories and imagination" at the heart of that contributor's work.
Nara's realm is described as a physical manifestation of his "mental landscape", and one imagines that it could be more than a little dark. In the past, Yoshitomo Nara has called his illustrations a sequence of "self-portraits, reflecting [his] memories, [his] conscious and unconscious mind"; the sense of unease lurking behind the innocent façade deriving from own childhood experiences.
Born in Hirosaki in 1959, Nara was raised in poverty and had "an extraordinarily lonely childhood". By way of escapism, the young boy cultivated a wild imagination, largely informed by the expanding manga movement of the 1960s, and punk and rock music, which thrived in post-occupation Japan. Western literature, comic books and television, which had arrived with the American GIs in 1945, also provided a much-needed escape.
The installation, on display later this month, is billed as a homage to the memories triggered every time Nara puts pen to paper. And given that the result is at times a smiling child wielding a hunting knife, and at others a startled-looking, shy dog, it's sure to be a curious journey into the mindset of Yoshitomo Nara.
Walking in my Mind is at the Hayward Gallery, London SE1 (www.haywardgallery. org.uk), from 23 June to 6 September
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I was a Woman Against Feminism too
- 2 Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer released: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
- 3 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
Comic-Con 2014: Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch and Game of Thrones' George RR Martin set to attend
Hercules, review: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson takes centre stage in preposterous movie
Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer released: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?
George R. R. Martin responds to 13-year-old fan's 'heartfelt' letter asking for a grisly death in Game of Thrones
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia