Yoshitomo Nara First Ever Australian Solo Exhibition Is Coming To Perth In February 2023

Groundbreaking Artist Yoshitomo Nara’s First Australian Solo Exhibition Will Be In Perth Next Month

bySally Hall
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Yoshitomo Nara’s works will be coming to Perth (and Perth alone!) next month, as part of the celebrated Japanese artist’s first ever Australian solo exhibition.

Opening at the Art Gallery of Western Australia on February 26, Yoshitomo Nara: Reach Out to The Moon, Even If We Can’t will feature the artist’s iconic paintings, drawings, ceramics and photography alongside major sculptural works.

Yoshitomo Nara First Ever Australian Solo Exhibition Is Coming To Perth In February 2023
Yoshitomo Nara Reach out to the moon, even if we can’t 2016

“Yoshitomo Nara is one of the world’s most important and popular artists, and I’ve personally been a long-time fan,” said AGWA Director, Colin Walker.

“Over his career, Nara has captured the imagination of millions, and I’m thrilled that AGWA now has the privilege of connecting his practice directly with people here. I’m also incredibly excited to do so with such a powerful selection of his emotionally-loaded figurative works. I think it will be one of our most loved exhibitions yet.”

“Nara’s works emerge from his engagement with serious issues but are always full of a kind of off-kilter hopefulness and a gentle humility that comes from his sensitivity to living, like all of us, in a world we cannot ever really control. I’m confident that the deeply felt, large-scale poetic reflectiveness of this show will resonate with audiences across Australia as we enter another year, more hopeful than the last.”

Nara’s immediately recognisable style blends a huge array of influences and inspirations, notably including his post-World War II childhood in rural Northern Japan, imagery from pop, rock and folk music, and German neo-expressionism. All of these influences are distilled into his stylised portraits – their gigantic heads and huge eyes at once melancholic and menacing.

The artist’s work has also been used by bands such as REM, Shonen Knife, The Star Club and The Birdy Num Nums among many others, and December 2022 saw Nara’s second collaboration with fashion designer Stella McCartney.

This exclusive Perth exhibition will be presented in AGWA’s largest gallery space, and will include works from 2011 to 2022 – many in response to the Fukushima disaster of 2011, and the combined devastation of an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor breakdown.

“I’ve not only admired, but kind of adored, Nara’s work since coming across it in the 1990s,” AGWA curator Robert Cook added.

“What I’ve consistently loved about it is how incredibly direct it is, how it leads with an emotional punch. Nara’s works hit us like perfect pop songs hit, rapidly hooking us in and opening up all kinds of feelings. This partly accounts for the intimacy we feel from Nara’s work, like it is emoting with and for us, like it’s operating under our skin.”

To find out more about the free exhibition, head to the AGWA website.

Header image: Yoshitomo NaraGirl with eyepatch 2018