Art | Yoshitomo Nara Exhibition at AGWA

In this post I’ll be sharing with you my recent escapade to the Art Gallery of Western Australia. I had the chance to immerse myself in the captivating world of Yoshitomo Nara: Reach Out to The Moon, Even If We Can’t. (I’m still stoked that it was free entry! Can you believe free things still exist in 2023?)

As a creative designer with a love for the arts, I was eager to explore this exhibition. To be honest, I didn’t know much about the artist, and I wasn’t too sure what to expect. However, having previously heard good things about the exhibition, I couldn’t resist the opportunity. Anyway, it turned out to be a pretty unforgettable experience. And it made me realise how much I wish I knew more about Yoshitomo Nara!

The Exhibition

First of all, I love the title of this exhibition. I feel inspired just reading it. It’s taken from a quote by the late Joe Strummer of The Clash and played an important role for Nara. This exhibition displays his works from 2011 to 2022 and they all hold a heartfelt meaning. These works emerged from Nara’s personal response to the Fukushima disaster of 2011, which deeply affected his hometown due to an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor breakdown.

In the aftermath of this tragedy, Nara found himself at a creative standstill, unable to make art. However, he discovered a path back to his practice by engaging with clay sculptures that physically connected him to the art-making process. This exhibition is a beautiful journey that reminds us of the enduring strength found in the pursuit of art and imagination, even in the face of adversity.

The Artwork

From the moment I stepped foot into the gallery, I was immediately drawn to Nara’s sculptures. There was something eerie yet nostalgically alluring about his works, and I found myself irresistibly curious to learn more about the stories they held.

What I learnt about Nara is that he is an acclaimed Japanese artist whose creativity knows no bounds. His artwork is a fascinating blend of innocence and rebellion. His signature big-eyed characters capture the essence of childhood, however they have a provocative edge that speaks to a deeper emotional realm.

I enjoyed most of his work but I especially liked this little guy (no particular reason):

Bud vase Mt Fuji by Yoshitomo Nara, 2011.
Bud vase Mt Fuji by Yoshitomo Nara, 2011. Image by Cassandra Chew.

The Craftmanship

Each artwork seemed to have its own unique personality, as if whispering secrets from Nara’s mind to those who took the time to listen. The craftsmanship on display was astounding. You could really sense the passion and emotion poured into every stroke and curve.

What sets Nara apart is his refreshing departure from conventional gallery aesthetics. His style is unapologetically raw and authentic; shattering the boundaries of traditional art norms and leaving a lasting impact on anyone who experiences them.

Reach Out to The Moon, Even If We Can't by Yoshitomo Nara, AGWA.
Reach Out to The Moon, Even If We Can’t by Yoshitomo Nara, AGWA. Image by Cassandra Chew.

The Food For Thought

One of the highlights for me was the palpable atmosphere that surrounded me as I wandered through the exhibit. It was almost as if time stood still, allowing me to savour every moment and contemplate the meanings behind each creation. The blend of innocence and introspection in Nara’s art left me thinking about the complexities of human emotions. I’m already a deep thinker and his work [almost] triggered another existential crisis.

Miss Tannen sculpture by Yoshitomo Nara, 2012.
Miss Tannen by Yoshitomo Nara, 2012. Image by Cassandra Chew.
Midnight pilgrim sculpture by Yoshitomo Nara, 2012.
Midnight pilgrim by Yoshitomo Nara, 2012. Image by Cassandra Chew.

Throughout the exhibit, Nara’s mastery in conveying a sense of childlike wonder alongside profound introspection was evident. His art spoke volumes about the human experience; touching on themes of identity, dreams, and the universal desire to reach for something beyond our grasp.

Leaving the gallery, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of inspiration and introspection. Nara’s art had prompted me to reflect on my own designs and the emotions I wish to convey through my work.

In conclusion, this exhibition was an enigmatic journey that took me by surprise and left me wanting more. If you have the chance to witness the work of Yoshitomo Nara, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Prepare to be captivated by Nara’s artistry and transported into a realm where emotions and imagination intertwine.

Until the next creative adventure, my fellow art lovers! x


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