Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, is internationally known for his unique depictions of children and animals that appear both sweet and somewhat sinister at the same time.A contemporary to Takashi Murakami, Nara explores themes of isolation, rebellion, and spirituality through processes of printmaking, painting and installations and ceramics.
Nara’s reputation outside Asia had already been cemented by a major 2010 show at New York’s Society, Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody’s Fool. This was bolstered by permanent acquisitions by MoCA in Los Angeles and MoMA in New York, which now houses more than 130 of his works.
Earlier last year, Nara achieved a record breaking auction. The painting Knife Behind Back (2000) brought in nearly six times his previous auction record, achieved at Sotheby’s auction in Cctober. After a 10 minute bidding battle, involving six collectors from around the world, the painting went to a private collector from Asia for HK$195.6 million, far surpassing Nara’s previous auction record of US$4.4 million, set in May earlier in the year at Christie’s. Like many of his depictions Knife Behind Back (2000) at first appears to simply depict a grumpy young girl in a collared red dress. The fact that the viewer can only see one the girls arms, gives the painting a more sinister feeling, implying there is more behind the image than meets the eye.