For His First European Institutional Show in a Decade, Art Star Yoshitomo Nara Brings All of His ‘Little Worlds’ to a Major Museum in Vienna
The exhibition at the Albertina Modern features more than 400 artworks from the artist's oeuvre.
For three years in a row, Albertina Modern, the young museum of modern and contemporary art in Vienna, Austria has been presenting major solo exhibitions of top Asian artists on continental Europe. Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki was the star of 2021; Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei took the center stage last year; now, the spotlight is on Yoshitomo Nara, the beloved Japanese artist, international art market darling, and a crowd favorite around the world.
Best known for his childlike depiction of cute and contemplative “angry girls,” the 63-year-old artist has amassed a huge following over the past three decades, and has become a market star in recent years. Nara’s paintings often commend millions of dollars at auctions—his auction record stands at $24.9 million (HK$196 million, including fees) for the sale of his iconic 2000 painting Knife Behind Back at a 2019 Sotheby’s Hong Kong sale.
Drawings, however, are the star of Albertina Modern’s “All My Little Worlds” Nara’s first European institutional exhibition in a decade. The show features more than 400 pieces of works, including some 390 drawings, 15 paintings, and three sculptures, objects, and installations. Works range from early experimental pieces to recent offerings that are immediately recognizable. Drawings that seemed like they were created spontaneously on paper slips, envelops, flyers, and cardboards are on display in a manner arranged by Nara himself.
There is no lack of his signature wide-eyed characters. Some appear to be indignant while others seem to be sinking into deep thoughts. But they go beyond the surface of kawaii. The body of work on show collectively alleges a rebellious attitude and inquisitiveness that is often found among children, qualities that gradually fade away as they grow into adults.
Some works on view also reflect on a range of Nara’s influences, from music to pop culture, touching also on sociopolitical issues and global affairs. His anti-war stance is especially prominent in this selection of works on display.
One of the key highlights is the installation My Drawing Room from 2008, a cabin posing as a retreat for the artist where he can work in solitude. Works on paper, cultural objects, and even toys are scattered across the room, which Nara created out of his imagination. The artist also created a Spotify playlist of some of his favorite songs to accompany the viewing experience of this installation—inviting the visitors to immerse themselves in the artist’s world.
“All My Little Worlds” runs until November 1. See images of the exhibition below.
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