oil on canvas on board
27,6 x 37,1 cm (10 7/8 x 14 5/8 in.)
verso signed, titled and dated
What appears at first glance to be a cute, cheeky kitten reveals devilish features on closer inspection: the narrow eyes sparkle aggressively and a small pointed tooth emerges barely noticeable from the corner of the mouth. It is precisely this ambivalence between a harmless, idyllic child's world and an underlying threat that makes the pictorial worlds of Yoshitomo Nara so unique. Nara deliberately uses the childlike schema so that his childlike figures appear "kawaii" (cute) on the one hand, but on the other hand conceal deeper, universally valid emotions that range from anger to sadness to rebellion. Nara, a former master student of A. R. Penck, gained international recognition in the 1990s with his "Angry Girls". Regardless of gender, Nara regards his figures, which usually appear as individual actors, in a certain sense as self-portraits, since they tie in with his own childhood memories. Nara grew up as a so-called only child with a cat. It is therefore all the less surprising that the cat, or rather the cat costume, has been a recurring motif in his works since his very first artwork.
Echoes of the formal vocabulary and aesthetics of cartoons and anime are unmistakable, but the artist himself rigorously rejects any relationship to the latter and instead refers to entirely different influences, which include Western children's books as well as punk rock and other subcultural currents. He captures his drawings, which always revolve around social orders and conditions, immediately on a wide variety of materials such as envelopes, flyers or cardboard.