Nara's known for his big eyed girls. He is the pied piper of a beguiling playground, in which a coterie of figures stare out at the viewer from the softly applied pigment on his canvasses.
The girls are drawn stylistically at least, from the manga-aesthetic that has immediate associations with his home country, Japan. But there's so much more to Nara than anime and kawaii - the fetishisation of cuteness. Look deeper, and you'll see that they're not cute. They're actually pretty bad. They're strung out. They swear. They listen to the Western rock music beloved by Nara: you'll find lyrics everywhere, sung out in captions by his characters or doodled on drawings. Some can be seen tearing through sunsets on motorbikes or smoking with their heads turned, shunning the viewer.
You can meet his girl-gang at Stephen Friedman gallery, where Nara presents his fourth exhibition. This new work is some of the most painterly we've seen from the artist. The use of colour has complicated; we find layers upon layers of paint, the canvas shimmers. His handling of flesh feels almost Turner-esque, a muted poetry of marbled flatness.
Some of Nara's works on paper are on display, too. Drawing is as important as painting to his practice: "I think of them as being mental images without colour," the artist has said.
Come and delight in the creations of one of Japan's most important living artists.
|What||Closing Soon: Yoshitomo Nara, Stephen Friedman|
|Where||Stephen Friedman, 25-28 Old Burlington Street, London, W1S 3AN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Acton Town (underground)|
28 Apr 16 – 01 Jun 16, Tuesday - Friday 10am - 6pm Saturday 11am - 5pm, Closed Saturday and Sunday
|Website||Click here for more information|