"The little girl and the big puppy each found a friend. And they were friends forever…No matter how alone you are, there is always someone, somewhere, waiting to meet you.”
The Lonesome Puppy, Nara Yoshitomo, 1999
Big Pup Head features the emblematic sleeping dog from Nara Yoshitomo’s cast of characters. A recurring figure in the artist’s oeuvre, the whimsical dog appears often in Nara’s creations and has been rendered in life-size sculpture form as well as being featured as the hero of Nara’s first illustrated book for children, The Lonesome Puppy. The adorably illustrated book tells the story of a puppy so large that no one sees him – until a determined little girl climbs high enough to meet him and become his friend. The present lot recalls not only this sweet tale but also encapsulates Nara’s epochal and universally resonant oeuvre.
Nara was born in 1959 in Hirosaki in the Aomori Prefecture. His formative years were marked—if not marred—by intense feelings of isolation: born to emotionally distant workaholic parents in post-war Japan and growing up as the youngest of three sons by a drastic age difference, Nara’s childhood was, for the most part, spent alone. The artist once admitted in an interview: “When you are a kid, you are too young to know you are lonely, sad, and upset… Now I know I was.” Transforming his intense feelings into art, Nara immortalized his loneliness into endearing creations that quickly gained an explosive worldwide cult following. Whether portraying young solitary children or animals, Nara’s creations merge anime, Pop Art and punk rock, combining mischief and innocence to convey a beguiling sugary sweetness on the surface that melts to reveal darker angsts. While immediately reminiscent of Pop and exuding an undeniable Lichtenstein-esque vibe, the artist’s reductive figurations draw also on Modernism’s sign-like shorthand language of images to leaving endless space for fantasy for the child as well as the adult viewer.