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 October. 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.