Yoshitomo Nara (奈良 美智, Nara Yoshitomo, born 5 December 1959 in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, Japan) is a Japanese artist. He lives and works in Nasushiobara, Tochigi Prefecture, though his artwork has been exhibited worldwide. Nara has had nearly 40 solo exhibitions since 1984. His art work has been housed at the MoMA and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA). His most well-known and repeated subject is a young girl with piercing eyes.
Nara first came to the fore of the art world during Japan's Pop Art movement in the 1990s. The subject matter of his sculptures and paintings is deceptively simple: most works depict one seemingly innocuous subject (often pastel-hued children and animals drawn with confident, cartoonish lines) with little or no background. But these children, who appear at first to be cute and even vulnerable, sometimes brandish weapons like knives and saws. Their wide eyes often hold accusatory looks that could be sleepy-eyed irritation at being awoken from a nap—or that could be undiluted expressions of hate.
In June, 2005, Nara's artwork was featured in the album titled Suspended Animation by experimental band Fantômas. Other commercial products (including videos, books, magazines, catalogues and monographs) have been dedicated to Nara's work. Recently, a two-volume catalogue raisonné of all his sculptures, paintings, and drawings was completed.
In 2010, the Asia Society showed Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody's Fool the first major New York exhibition of his work. Other major retrospectives include: I Don't Mind If You Forget Me, which toured Japan between 2001 and 2002; and Yoshitomo Nara: Nothing Ever Happens, which traveled the United States from 2003 to 2005. One of his exhibited works is now part of the window of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, England.
In 2019, Nara's installation art Not Everything but/ Green House (2009) was sold for a new record price of HK$40.12m (US$5.12m) at Poly Auction Hong Kong. However, this record only lasted for a few hours. Knife Behind Back (2000), a large-scale painting by Nara, just sold at Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale in Hong Kong for HK$195.7m (US$25m), nearly five times its record. The new record is also a milestone for Nara as he becomes the most expensive Japanese artist. Can’t Wait ‘til the Night Comes was sold for HK$92.9m at the same year.