Yoshitomo Nara (ならよしとも) is a Japanese contemporary artist. He was born on December 5th, 1959 in Hirosaki, Japan. He is also known by the name Nara Michiro.
Yoshitomo is a member of the Superflat movement. A student of art in Germany, Nara received his MFA from Aichi Prefectural University. He has had 40 different solo exhibitions since he became a known artist in 1984, and has continued to create his artistic style ever since.
Due to its rebellious nature, Nara’s artwork has a cult following both in and outside of Japan.
The Superflat movement is a Japanese art movement that takes its inspiration from Manga and anime and turns it into a style of painting and abstraction. Other Superflat artists include Aya Takano, Takashi Murakami, Chiho Aoshima and Mahomi Kunikata. Unlike many of those artists, Yoshitomo is not part of Kaikai Kiki, the company that is run by Takashi Murakami that has a focus on Superflat art.
Most of Nara’s artwork is related to animation. Like all Superflat art, he often draws anime-like characters. In fact, most of Nara’s artwork consists of a single Chiba-like character with a large head and large eyes on a small body. There tends to be very little in terms of background, and often it is the expression on the character’s face that is meant to display most of the meaning in the photograph. Many of Nara’s characters have “mean” looks, characterized by slanted eyes and a glance in the direction of the individual looking at the painting. His work is characterized directly as “cute characters with horror-like images.”
Nara’s art has been made into both dolls as well as sculpture, the sculpture sometimes by Nara himself.
The rest of his artistic career has been dedicated to books (like many of the other Superflat artists, Nara has created some illustrated books using his artwork).