Interview with Artist Yoshitomo Nara at LACMA

Yoshitomo Nara and LACMA's Mika Yoshitake

One of the many, many pandemic-related letdowns of the year is the postponement(?) of the Yoshitomo Nara exhibit at LACMA. While I’m hopeful we’ll eventually be able to appreciate his work in person, this interview with Nara and LACMA’s Mika Yoshitake should provide at least some relief.

Yoshitomo Nara is among the most beloved Japanese artists of his generation. His widely recognizable portraits of menacing figures reflect the artist’s raw encounters with his inner self. A peripatetic traveler, Nara’s oeuvre takes inspiration from a wide range of resources—memories of his childhood, music, literature, studying and living in Germany (1988–2000), exploring his roots in Japan, Sakhalin, and Asia, and modern art from Europe and Japan. Spanning over 30 years from 1987 to 2020, Yoshitomo Nara views the artist’s work through the lens of his longtime passion—music.

The recorded interview was conducted on July 3, the day after installation of the retrospective was completed following a lengthy delay due to the Safer at Home Order implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Facing the uncertain reality of the postponement of his retrospective, Nara shares the story of his working process, his inspirations, his work as a catalyst for communication and shared interests, and the unanticipated inclusion of a new painting created during the pandemic that reflects a new artistic direction.

– Los Angeles County Museum of Art