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Yoshitomo Nara: Pinacoteca, a historic solo exhibition for London.

Yoshitomo Nara, STOP THE BOMBS, 2019 acrylic on wood, 58-7 / 8 ″ × 46-1 / 4 ″ × 3-1 / 16 ″ (149.5 cm × 117.5 cm × 7.8 cm) © Yoshitomo Nara

Pace Gallery is delighted to announce Yoshitomo Nara: Pinacoteca, a historic solo exhibition, premiering on November 26, 2021. Marking the first exhibition to use the full scope of Pace’s new London gallery, Yoshitomo Nara’s exhibition will be presented on two levels with a major new installation at its center and a diverse range of paintings, sculptures and works on cardboard in the three galleries.

Yoshitomo Nara’s practice expertly balances the aesthetics of the material with thoughtful reflections on the human experience – pain, war, spirit, politics, loneliness, music and nature. Yoshitomo Nara: Pinacoteca coincides with the artist’s major retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which has been extended until January 2022, and the exhibition, I forgot their names and often I don’t remember their faces but I remember their voices well in Dallas Contemporary, Texas, from March 20 to August 22, 2021.

At the cornerstone of the exhibition Nara will present Pinacoteca 2021, a new multi-room installation that is reworked from an earlier project titled London Mayfair House that Nara built from abandoned materials found in a suburb of London in 2006. One of only 15 extant, seven of which are in public collections such as the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in South Korea and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, this installation offers rare insight into the artist’s radically multidisciplinary experiential practice.

Borrowing its title from the ancient Greco-Roman term for a public art fair, Pinacoteca 2021, is a specially designed multi-room structure that mimics an exhibition space. Since 1985, Nara’s practice has explored the relationship between space and the work of art. In 2001, he created an installation that resembled his dorm room, in which he exhibited unframed drawings by pinning them directly to the walls as if they had just been completed, bringing the viewer into his inner world. Between 2003 and 2010, Nara completed several space installations, often using found materials and personal effects alongside works of art to construct and compose her structures.

‘In these fantastic and childish rooms, Nara disturbs[s] institutional spaces of museums and galleries by challenging traditional classifications of what is and is not considered art. … With each exhibition, a spectator’s experience as a voyeur, consumer or passer-by becomes part of the disrupting effect of this concentrated superposition of objects. – Dr Yeewan Koon

Visitors are welcome to enter Pinacoteca 2021 and experience the work of the interior as a gallery of paintings. Nara has meticulously designed every facet of the space to evoke a strong sense of belonging and emotion and to create bonds between the viewer and the environment. On the interior walls, newly created paintings on wood and canvas as well as drawings on paper, used envelopes and cardboard boxes, are hung by the artist himself. Adorning the exterior walls – which were directly painted – Nara hangs new paintings on wood that are stylistically simpler and more graphic than the works inside the installation. Sight lines from outside the structure have been carefully constructed through wooden slats and windows, skillfully shifting the viewer’s position from participant to viewer as they enter and exit the space.

For more than three decades, Nara’s idiosyncratic visual language has focused on innocent, genderless characters, often rendered in vivid colors with big heads and oval eyes. Drawing on a multitude of sources including politics, punk rock and folk music, and 1960s counterculture, Nara’s iconic figures function as a sort of self-portrait. Working alone, Nara channels her inner world through these unusual and cheeky figures, whose expressions range from outrage to rebellion (Hitting the drum, 2020) to discouraged (Okhotsk Girl’s Island, Cape Shiretoko, 2020) and curious (… So, 2020). Particular attention is paid to the materiality of his work. Nara’s paintings on cardboard such as Girl with chopsticks (2019) and Remember BTB (2020), keep the raw edges exposed, leaving the old barcodes and shipping text visible as part of the paint composition.

Head of peace (2020) and Head of Boredom (2020), two new bronze sculptures covered with a white urethane coating, began as small, palm-sized works of clay before being enlarged and cast. Merging the physical and natural world with the portrait, these sculptures have a shared sensibility with his graphite drawings in their use of shadow and line. Nara’s work with ceramics introduces an element of chance into her experiments with clay via the firing process. In Miss. Smooth-Flat (2021), Nara focuses on form and materiality, imbuing the character with an ambiguous mix of emotions ranging from anger to boredom, the interpretation is left to the viewer.

Yoshitomo Nara: Pinacoteca November 26, 2021 – January 15, 2022 PACE 5 Hanover Square London Opening reception Thursday, November 25 pacegallery.com

About the artist

Yoshitomo Nara (born 1959, Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan) is a pioneering figure in contemporary art whose characteristic style, which expresses figures in a range of emotional complexities from resistance and rebellion to quietude and to contemplation, celebrates the introspective freedom of the imagination and the individual.

Nara’s work encompasses painting, drawing, photography, large-scale installations and sculpture in ceramic, bronze and fiber-reinforced plastic. Influenced by popular music, childhood memories and current events, he filters these references through an exploratory domain of feelings, loneliness and rebellion in particular, which encompasses broader autobiographical and cultural sensibilities. In 2021, Nara opened two major exhibitions: an investigation at Dallas Contemporary, Texas and a retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which runs until January 2022.

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