Monday, July 6, 2009

Sleepless- Yoshitomo Nara

Nara's style of drawing and his signature character- the 'naughty face' girl- are curiously appealing. While seemingly juvenile (and exemplary of the Japanese fixation with all things kawaii), his works display complex psychological states such as wakefulness, lack of innocence, menace and wide-eyed exhaustion. These paintings possess a dreamy, serene quality, but on closer inspection the stance appears unnatural (top), the eyes too large (bottom), the pale colours almost too harsh. It's a freaky, zombie-ish kind of dreamy, as if one has landed in the realm of the walking dead. And really, doesn't that describe our existence in modern society to some extent? We're all familiar with that soulless look of wide-eyed exhaustion; it's something we might see in the man on the subway next to us. Is it a coincidence that the above paintings have that overexposed, clinical quality of industrial lighting? Life is so full that it sometimes keeps us up at night, and we pump caffeine into our bodies to stay energized, but we're not sure what we're living for. Another day of grinding? Nara's works speak volumes about our lifestyle, and show that nothing can ever be as wholesome or ideal as one desires it to be.

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