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Japanese artist reveals his mature, 'grown-up' side

Yoshitomo Nara's painting Midnight, Meditation in progress in the artist's studio in 2017. (© Yoshitomo Nara. Photograph by Yoshitomo Nara, courtesy of Pace Gallery)
Yoshitomo Nara's painting Midnight, Meditation in progress in the artist's studio in 2017. (© Yoshitomo Nara. Photograph by Yoshitomo Nara, courtesy of Pace Gallery)
In his current solo exhibition in New York, the Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara presents a new body of work that digs into a “more meditative and contemplative” chapter of his life and practice, the artist says. Yoshitomo Nara: Thinker at Pace Gallery (until 29 April) includes over 60 paintings, sculptures, works on paper and ceramics that show a “softened, shifted approach from the work that I created in Tokyo, which definitely had a more rebellious and aggressive tone,” he says.

For more than ten years, Nara has lived in an area that he describes as “all mountains and forests,” a place similar to the largely suburban city Hirosaki, where he was born and raised. He calls Miss Forest/Thinker (2016)—a 16 foot-tall bronze sculpture of a child with a head that resembles a pine tree, and which was modeled from a 3D scan of a smaller work—a "forest spirit." Whereas his previous works are characterised by punk lyrics and moody children sometimes wielding weapons, the new ones are mostly serene, reflecting his currently placid state of mind. "I’m able to observe society with a great deal of calmness now and create works with a lot more kindness in them," he says. “I guess I’ve become kind of an adult."

Nara says the new works are also inspired by his passion for planting trees. “As I get older, I find myself wanting to return to nature," he says. "I’m growing around 300 trees at the moment in an area about three times the size of a soccer field. I think that I’m one-third painter and sculptor, one-third traveler and one-third tree planter.”
Venue details
The Pace Gallery, 510 West 25th Street
New York
USA
www.thepacegallery.com
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