New York – Pace Gallery is pleased to present works by renowned Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara alongside personal items related to the artist's process and inspiration, on view at 540 West 25th Street from September 18–October 24, 2020. Following the exhibition's summer debut at Pace's venue in East Hampton, the fall iteration of After all I'm cosmic dust in New York City includes 7 additional works by Nara that will then be featured in Dallas Contemporary's survey of the artist, on view January 30–August 22, 2021. This exhibition coincides with the release of the artist's first substantial monograph, written by scholar Yeewan Koon (Phaidon Press, 2020.) This exhibition also comes in advance of LACMA's first international retrospective of Nara's work, which was postponed to a still unspecified date due to COVID-19.
Nara rose to prominence in the late 1990s, becoming internationally renowned for his emotionally complex paintings of figures set against monochromatic backgrounds. His signature style is expressed in many other mediums, including sculpture, photography, ceramics and installation, but it is his drawings that form the foundation for his practice.
'Looking back to when I was little. . . I was able to draw whatever I wanted with a pencil. . . For me, this turned out to be the point of origin for all my work, and it is a practice that I continue to this day. . . I have been drawing as though I were breathing. Or taking notes. Or thinking. That's been my past thirty years.' — Nara
After all I'm cosmic dust provides insight into the central role of drawing in Nara's creative world. Combining coloured pencil with acrylic paint, his spontaneous drawings—whether diaristic doodles, expressive tracings of thought, or boldly sketched lines—portray figures in a range of moods and capture the instinctive energy crucial to Nara's expression of his ruminations, emotions, and dreams. Nara makes his drawings anywhere and at any time. As a result, they embody a freedom that is vital to him. He pins these works on his studio walls, places them in drawers, or piles them high on his desk. Often much later, he returns to them to tap into memories that he then channels into new paintings and sculptures. The personal nature of Nara's art distances it from the sleek, technophilic, and mass-produced aesthetics of Superflat, a Japanese style that emerged in the early 2000s.
Nara's more recent works suggest a return to his childhood. Although he has gained international acclaim and is involved in projects with global reach, he maintains strong ties to his home in the north of Japan. The exhibition presents twenty-eight works, including two large-scale drawings that Nara made while attending Tobiu Camp, an annual music and arts festival in Hokkaido that celebrates the onset of autumn as well as the camp's environmental work protecting this remote region. Here, artists and musicians join together, regardless of their status, to share their different projects or simply play. Nara's drawings are inspired by the spirit of community, channeling a connective empathy that is at the heart of his art.
Yoshitomo Nara (b. 1959, Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan) is a pioneering figure in contemporary art whose signature style—which expresses figures in a range of emotional complexities from resistance and rebellion to quietude and contemplation—celebrates the introspective freedom of the imagination and the individual.
Nara's work spans painting, drawing, photography, large-scale installations, and sculpture in ceramic, bronze, and fibre-reinforced plastic. Influenced by popular music, memories of childhood, and current events, he filters these references through an exploratory realm of feelings, loneliness and rebelliousness especially, which span autobiographical as well as broader cultural sensibilities
Press release courtesy Pace Gallery.