Essays

Nara: A Timeline 1988 – 2023

Published On Wednesday, Jan 17, 2024

1988

IN 1988, YOSHITOMO NARA MOVES TO GERMANY TO UNDERTAKE FURTHER STUDIES AT THE KUNSTACADEMIE DÜSSELDORF, WHERE, FROM 1991, HE STUDIES UNDER THE PAINTER A. R. PENCK (1939 – 2017). PENCK ENCOURAGES NARA TO “PAINT ON THE CANVAS AS IF HE IS DRAWING”, RESULTING IN AN UNUSUAL SET OF DRAWINGS IN ACRYLIC PAINT. THESE BOLD, SINGULAR FIGURES FEATURING STREAKS OF RED AND YELLOW THAT SATURATE THEIR BLURRED OR EXAGGERATED FEATURES REPRESENT A COMPOSITIONAL PARING DOWN OF NARA’S PREVIOUS GRIDDED WORKS.

ADAPTED FROM ONE OF THESE ACRYLIC DRAWINGS, THE WALKING FIGURE IN IRRLICHTER (1989) OCCUPIES THE LENGTH OF THE PICTURE PLANE, FOREGROUNDED AGAINST A WASH OF BROAD STREAKS OF LAYERED YELLOWS. THIS PAINTING MARKS THE BEGINNING OF A SIGNIFICANT SHIFT IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF NARA’S SIGNATURE STYLE—LARGE, ROUNDED HEADS AGAINST PLAIN BACKGROUNDS.