New York

Yoshitomo Nara

After all I'm cosmic dust

Sep 18–Oct 24, 2020

Featuring works by renowned Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara alongside personal items related to the artist’s process and inspiration, this presentation follows the exhibition’s summer debut at our venue in East Hampton.

Exhibition Details

Yoshitomo Nara
After all I'm cosmic dust
Sep 18 – Oct 24, 2020


540 West 25th Street
New York

Above: Installation view, Yoshitomo Nara: After all I'm cosmic dust, Sep 18 – Oct 24, 2020, Pace Gallery, New York © Yoshitomo Nara

Yoshitomo Nara rose to prominence in the late 1990s, becoming internationally renowned for his emotionally complex paintings of figures set against monochromatic backgrounds. His signature style is expressed in many other mediums, including sculpture, photography, ceramics and installation, but it is his drawings that form the foundation for his practice.

The fall iteration of After all I’m cosmic dust in New York City includes 7 additional works by Nara that will then be featured in Dallas Contemporary’s survey of the artist, on view January 30 – August 22, 2021. This exhibition coincides with the release of the artist’s first substantial monograph, written by scholar Yeewan Koon (Phaidon Press, 2020), and comes in advance of LACMA’s first international retrospective of Nara’s work, which was postponed to a still unspecified date due to COVID-19.


Installation view of artist materials, Yoshitomo Nara: After all I’m cosmic dust, July 3 – 19, 2020, Pace Gallery East Hampton © Yoshitomo Nara

After all I’m cosmic dust provides insight into the central role of drawing in Nara’s creative world. Combining colored pencil with acrylic paint, his spontaneous drawings—whether diaristic doodles, expressive tracings of thought, or boldly sketched lines—portray figures in a range of moods and capture the instinctive energy crucial to Nara’s expression of his ruminations, emotions, and dreams. Nara makes his drawings anywhere and at any time. As a result, they embody a freedom that is vital to him. He pins these works on his studio walls, places them in drawers, or piles them high on his desk. Often much later, he returns to them to tap into memories that he then channels into new paintings and sculptures. The personal nature of Nara’s art distances it from the sleek, technophilic, and mass-produced aesthetics of Superflat, a Japanese style that emerged in the early 2000s.


Yoshitomo Nara, Searching in the Dark, 2020, acrylic and colored pencil on cardboard, 29-5/16" × 20-1/16" (74.5 cm × 51 cm) © Yoshitomo Nara

Nara’s more recent works suggest a return to his childhood. Although he has gained international acclaim and is involved in projects with global reach, he maintains strong ties to his home in the north of Japan. The exhibition presents twenty-eight works, including two large-scale drawings that Nara made while attending Tobiu Camp, an annual music and arts festival in Hokkaido that celebrates the onset of autumn as well as the camp’s environmental work protecting this remote region. Here, artists and musicians join together, regardless of their status, to share their different projects or simply play. Nara’s drawings are inspired by the spirit of community, channeling a connective empathy that is at the heart of his art.

For me, this turned out to be the point of origin for all my work, and it is a practice that I continue to this day... I have been drawing as though I were breathing. Or taking notes. Or thinking. That’s been my past thirty years.

Yoshitomo Nara


Yoshitomo Nara

Yoshitomo Nara is a pioneering figure in contemporary art whose signature style—which expresses children in a range of emotional complexities from resistance and rebellion to quietude and contemplation—celebrates the introspective freedom of the imagination and the individual. Yoshitomo Nara graduated from Aichi University of the Arts with a master’s degree in 1987, completing further studies at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, from 1988 to 1993, before settling in Cologne in 1994. This period of time was a pivotal influence on Nara, during which he began synthesizing Japanese and Western popular culture, as seen in Nachtwandern (1994), and when he arrived at his mature style, as seen in Pony Tail (1995) and Haze Days (1998). Nara’s paintings enact a fleeting presence between the figure and the ground—a result of several layers of paint in subtly varied if subdued pigments that he applies throughout the painting process—in which the figure pops out of or floats in a space that appears to exist outside the constraints of time.

Learn More

New York — Yoshitomo Nara, After all I'm cosmic dust, Sep 18–Oct 24, 2020