While America's Pop Art movement can be dated to the 1960s, Japan's came about thirty years later, and Yoshitomo Nara is arguably its national ambassador, it's Andy Warhol. Inspired by the manga comics and anime of his youth, Nara is a master of stylized gore, painting wide-eyed children against plain – often pastel – backgrounds. With a fisheye lens perspective, the heads of his figures swell like unwieldy balloons tethered to tiny bodies. A cartoonish, mock-innocent style pretends to disguise their menacing poses and expressions. Adorned with all the accoutrements of cute -- choppy, bobbed hair; handfuls of daisies; smock-like dresses -- the evil motives of Nara's children are cast into high relief. Half-concealing weapons (knives, saws, guns) they are at once saccharine and sinister.
The present work, "Peace on Your Feet," executed in 2004, synthesizes many of Nara's visual tropes. The bobbleheaded figure, turned three-quarter, peers into distant space from cruel, blue eyes. The peace sign she forms with her babyish hand radiates quake lines that, considering all other aspects of the drawing, read more like ironic scare-quotes. Vampiric incisors demarcate her straight-line mouth and plump little legs taper into footless stubs. She stands atop a lawn that looks more like a green, cumulus cloud and is emblazoned with the work's title. Our present child, like all of Nara's antiheroes, channels the intimidation and anxiety provoked by an overconnected world of ever-expanding scale.
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