Yoshitomo Nara’s Art Speaks to Today’s Youth

One of Japan’s most prolific artists, Yoshitomo Nara was born in Hirosaki in Japan’s Aomori prefecture in 1959, making him a sexagenerian. Even so, his artwork speaks to audiences of all ages, especially young people.

Encompassing sculptures, paintings, and pages torn from Nara’s private sketchbooks, a comprehensive exhibition of Nara’s work is on view at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai’s artsy West Bund area until January 2, 2023.

RADII decided to swing by the show, which has been well-attended and recommended by youths on Chinese social media.

The exhibition sheds light on the importance of formative youth experiences. Nara grew up near an American army airbase and listened to anti-war rock music on the area’s airwaves.  A whole wall of the exhibition displays his entire collection of records, and his art is heavily inspired by punk music

The artist is best known for his paintings of cute yet creepy characters with vacant expressions. There is something sweet yet sinister about his works, which address the emotional complexities experienced by children.

Some critics see his art as a pushback against Japan’s rigid social conventions. Similarly, youth worldwide are fed up with exacting standards from authorities, hence China’s ‘lying flat’ generation and ‘quiet quitting’ in the West.

Click on the link below to learn more about the ‘lying flat’ movement in China.