Yoshitomo Nara, Installation view, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, 2014

Yoshitomo Nara

Yoshitomo Nara

Shallow Puddles

October 2 – November 14, 2015

At The Noyes House: 
Blum & Poe, Mendes Wood DM and Object & Thing

September 15 – November 28, 2020
The Eliot Noyes House, New Canaan

5,471 miles

July 21 – August 8, 2020

Yoshitomo Nara

March 1 – April 12, 2014
Los Angeles

15th Anniversary Inaugural Exhibition

October 3 – November 14, 2009
Los Angeles

Yoshitomo Nara

December 20, 2008 – February 7, 2009
Los Angeles

Yoshitomo Nara

new works 2004

January 10 – February 7, 2004
Los Angeles

Inaugural Group Show

September 4 – October 4, 2003
Los Angeles

Yoshitomo Nara

In the White Room

January 11 – February 10, 2001
Santa Monica

Yoshitomo Nara

March 16 – April 3, 1999
Santa Monica

Yoshitomo Nara

February 18 – March 13, 1999
Santa Monica

Yoshitomo Nara

May 8 – June 7, 1997
Santa Monica

Yoshitomo Nara

Pacific Babies

July 12 – August 19, 1995
Santa Monica


Yoshitomo Nara (b. 1959, Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan) grew up in Hirosaki, in Japan’s rural northern prefecture of Aomori. Having graduated with an MFA from the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music, Nagakute, Japan, in 1987, he completed his studies at the Kunstakademie, Dusseldorf, Germany from 1988 to 1993. Nara began his career during the decade he spent in Cologne, and from the mid-1990s he exhibited widely in Europe, the United States, Japan, and all over Asia. His return to Japan in 2000 coincided with a surge of global interest in Japanese pop culture, particularly in the United States. While he is primarily a painter, his practice encompasses drawing; sculptures made of wood, FRP, ceramic, and bronze; installations that incorporate scrap materials; and photographs that document everyday landscapes and the encounters he has during his travels.

Nara has been prolific in his output over the past thirty years, but regardless of the choice of media his artworks are all consistently a portrayal of himself. While many of Nara’s contemporaries make their work with an audience in mind, he typically creates his works in a more personal mode; they originate from a struggle to express the self. The figures portrayed in his paintings are born out of his deep introspection and his layering and erasure of colors on the canvas; only the most sincere elements are allowed to remain. Likewise, Nara’s unfiltered thoughts and feelings are vividly ingrained in the rhythm and vigor of the figures and words depicted in his drawings on notepaper and used envelopes. In his sculptural practice, which dates back to the beginning of his career, he seeks to create new life through an intimate dialogue with material. In Nara’s photographs, which he began exhibiting in recent years, the depiction of individual moments in his art-making and his travels as something irreplaceable reveals the artist’s sense of frugality toward the world. All of Nara’s work is born out of a spiritual, ritualistic pursuit of the transcendental.

Nara’s practice is entirely rooted in his mental and emotional stimulus, the feelings of curiosity sparked by what he sees and hears, and his interest in literature. He was strongly influenced by the music he listened to as a nine-year-old boy. While many of those songs were in foreign languages, he used his imagination to overcome the language barrier, internalizing the vision of the world depicted on the record covers and understanding those works of art as if he were inhabiting them himself.

Transcending the limits of language, culture, and historical decades, Nara’s free, direct and uninhibited works deeply touch the hearts of people all over the world and are widely loved. At the same time, Nara cherishes his interactions with the people he meets through his art-making, and he continues to exhibit his work all over the world, like a wandering troubadour, not restricting himself to the category of fine art. Nara is not simply a traveler in figurative terms, but in actuality: from his birthplace of Aomori to Hokkaido, Taiwan, Sakhalin, Asia, and more recently the Middle East, he is continuously traveling throughout Japan and elsewhere in search of his roots. Furthermore, through Twitter and Instagram he forges connections with people throughout the world in real time.

Yoshitomo Nara’s numerous solo exhibitions include I Forgot Their Names and Often Can't Remember Their Faces but Remember Their Voices Well, Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, TX (2021); Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, traveling to Yuz Museum, Shanghai, China (2020–21); Drawings Last 31 Years, Château La Coste, Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, France (2019); For Better or Worse: Works 1987–2017, Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota, Japan (2017); Life is Only One: Yoshitomo Nara, Asia Society Hong Kong Center, Hong Kong, China (2015); Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA (2014); NARA Yoshitomo: a bit like you and me…, Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama, Japan, traveled to Aomori Museum of Art, Aomori, Japan and Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto, Japan (2012); The Crated Rooms in Iceland: Yoshitomo Nara + YNG, Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland (2009); Yoshitomo Nara + graf, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK (2008); Yoshitomo Nara + graf, Museum of Contemporary Art, Den Haag, Netherlands (2007); From the Depth of My Drawer, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan, traveling exhibition (2004); Nothing Ever Happens, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH, traveling exhibition (2003); and I Don't Mind, If You Forget Me, Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama, Japan, traveling exhibition (2001).

Selected Works


Yoshitomo Nara: The Beginning Place | Aomori Museum of Art, Aomori, Japan


Yoshitomo Nara: All My Little Words | Albertina Modern, Vienna, Austria


Artsy: Yoshitomo Nara on Turning His Cute Characters into Art World Icons


Yoshitomo Nara: Reach Out to The Moon, Even If We Can’t | The Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia


Yoshitomo Nara | Aichi Triennale, Ichinomiya, Japan


Sonia Gomes and Yoshitomo Nara | FRONT International 2022, Cleveland, OH


Related Publications

Yoshitomo Nara: Shallow Puddles

Yoshitomo Nara: Drawings 1984-2013

Yoshitomo Nara

Yoshitomo Nara

Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody's Fool

Yoshitomo Nara: For Better Or Worse

Yoshitomo Nara: Days 2014-2018

Yoshitomo Nara: A Bit Like You and Me...

Yoshitomo Nara: Once In A Life: Encounters With Nara

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