LONDON – In his sculpture Melting Moon, Yoshitomo Nara evokes the intensity of forgotten childhood emotions. Yoshitomo Nara's "little pilgrims" reoccur often within his œeuvre. Here, in Melting Moon, the heads of six of these figures meander like sleepwalkers with eyes closed within a dreamlike realm. Lost in thought, they seem to be wordlessly in conversation as they float on the plated surface of the sculpture. Nara's reference to the moon invites us to immerse ourselves further in their cosmic realm.

Yoshitomo Nara has one of the most remarkable careers among Japanese artists today. While the slick glossiness of this work is characteristically Pop, it brings to us a deeper, personal experience of the emotion at the core of his exploration of themes surrounding childhood and youth. Growing up in a postwar Japan that was effectively occupied by the US, Nara's formative years were greatly influenced by American culture and ideals, particularly Walt Disney and Warner Brothers, whose cartoons provided much inspiration for Nara's aesthetic. 


Although he has worked alongside contemporaries in both the West and East, Nara's work has always emphasised the importance of individual experience and personal sentiments. In reaction to comparisons between his work and that of Takashi Murakami he has said, "overseas, everyone started to read the work within the context of Murakami's Superflat theory. In a way, they can be explained with that, so that's fine, but for me they were much more personal. All the children and animals depicted came from inside me, not from a theory." In his sculptures, which appear simultaneously pure and vulnerable, the articulation of Nara's own emotions creates a unique resonance with the viewer, who is invited to recall the intensity of childhood feelings. Irresistibly adorable and overwhelmingly charming, this sculpture is archetypal Nara.


11 February 2016 | London