In Walk On the young girl stares out at us, wide-eyed and defiant. The title has something of a noli me tangere assurance; the central figure challenges us to walk on by, and in doing so ensures that we are drawn back to her. Her red dress against a pastel-hued, monochromatic background, the simplified features reminiscent of the stuffed animals and the bold cartoonish lines of his early years. The works draw on the reductive abstraction of Modernism, the empty pictoral space surrounding the portrait and its radically simplified features transform the figures into signs.
Deceptively simple at first glance, these works are conceived in a deeply thought out and personal process. As Nara wrote in a statement for his recent exhibition A Bit Like You and Me…, “only the heroes in the posters on my wall and the outdated figures on display on the shelves of my studio know about the intimate exchange that goes on between my works and me.” (Exhibition Catalogue, Yokohama ,Yokohama Museum of Art (and traveling), Yoshitomo Nara: A Bit Like You and Me, 2012, p.7)
Initially uncanny and disquieting, Walk On reminds the viewer of what it was to be a child and it appeals to our desire to protect and cherish. There is an odd reversal of scale, as this seemingly vulnerable child towers over us; fiercely self-sufficient in the isolated world of her pictorial space she rejects our sympathy, asserting her independence.
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