Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody’s Fool at the Asia Society Museum


Yoshitomo Nara artist piece with a little girl with a big head and eyes and yellow dress and oh! my god! I miss you in writing on it 

We admit it: our expectations were pretty low as we walked into the Yoshitomo Nara exhibition at the Asia Society Museum last week. Not that we dislike the almost cultishly adored Japanese artist, a leader of that country's influential Neo-Pop movement… it's just that Nara's big-eyed, large-forehead-ed little girls (often threatening someone with a knife) have become so ubiquitous in certain quarters that a museum exhibition seemed almost beside the point. 

Yoshitomo Nara painting large woman with black hair and white polka dot bows and a white cat on a yellow background 

Well, we were wrong. Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody's Fool is an excellent exhibition, entertaining and surprising and rich with pleasure, both in the individual works–and there are more than 100 pieces here–as well as in the overall curation and presentation. We loved Nara's early artwork, for example (as in Make the Road, Follow the Road, above), which was unfamiliar to us and striking in both its palette and tone. And even Yoshitomo Nara's more familiar paintings, like Oh! My God! I Miss You, at top, which we've seen on postcards and such for years, suddenly seemed fresh, all large and live. 

Yoshitomo Nara painting of a girl with a big head, big blue eyes, red hair and green top on a purple-blue background 


The Asia Society exhibition also makes it clear that artist Yoshitomo Nara has an extraordinary talent for infusing his creations with a palpable inner glow, and many of the big paintings on display here, such as Remember Me, above, seem almost backlit in their radiance. Best of all, however, are Nara's installations, especially Doors, on the third floor, for which Yoshitomo Nara has built these brightly-color closets which frame his pieces, whether paintings or sculptures. The vaguely spooky lighting is perfect here, the music throbs and thumps, and as we peered behind the doors at these strange, endearing creatures, we felt very far away from the Park Avenue world below. 


Tall young man viewing Yoshitomo Nara artwork at the Asian Society Museum

Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody's Fool at the Asia Society Museum 

Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody's Fool will be at Asia Society until January 2, 2011. The Asia Society Museum is located on Park Avenue between 68th and 69th Streets, and is open on Tuesdays through Sundays from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., except on Friday, when it's open until 9:00 p.m. Admission for adults is $10; free for everyone under 16. For more information, see the Asia Society website.  

Giant white Yoshitomo Nara sculpture of a young girl in the middle of the street in NYC 



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