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The manga and anime of Yoshitomo Nara's 1960s childhood are both clear influences on Nara's stylized, large-eyed figures, as seen here in “Cosmic Girl.” Nara subverts the aesthetically charming illustrative style, however, by infusing his works with horror-like imagery. This juxtaposition of human evil with the innocence of childhood may be a reaction to Japan's rigid social conventions. He has also cited traditions as varied as Renaissance painting, literature, illustration, ukiyo-e, and graffiti as further inspiration. But perhaps most significantly, Nara’s upbringing in post-World War II Japan profoundly affected his mindset and, subsequently, his artwork as well.
Published by BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead UK
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Yoshitomo Nara (Japanese, b.1959) lives and works in Tokyo. His work draws on his childhood experiences of spending time alone with only his imagination, comic books and family pets. As a result, much of his work includes images of seemingly innocent, wide-eyed and comic book-like children and dogs. His nightmarish graphics, for which he has gained an international cult following, are simultaneously vulnerable and provocative, and stand as a critical affront to the rigidness of certain aspects of Japan’s social conventions.