Seoul–Pace is pleased to present an exhibition of work by Yoshitomo Nara at its arts complex in Seoul. On view from September 5 to October 21, the presentation, titled Ceramic Works and coinciding with Frieze Seoul, marks the artist’s first solo show in Korea since 2005. In his upcoming exhibition in Seoul, Nara will present some 140 ceramics and 30 drawings on paper and cardboard—along with selected items from his personal collection—as part of an installation that captures the essence of environment as well as his ideas, feelings, and creative impulses.
Studio view in Shigaraki, 2023
© Yoshitomo Nara, courtesy Pace Gallery
Nara rose to prominence in the late 1990s, when he became internationally known for his emotionally resonant, stylized images of child-like characters set against monochromatic backgrounds. Drawing inspiration from various sources— including politics, punk rock, folk music, 1960s counterculture, and his own memories and experiences from childhood— Nara developed a signature style that celebrates the introspective freedom of the imagination and the individual. The children in his works are depicted in a range of psychic states, from rebellious and resistant to quiet, contemplative, and lonely.
The artist’s practice encompasses not only painting but also drawing, photography, large-scale installation, and sculpture in ceramic, bronze, and fiber-reinforced plastic. It was during Nara’s 2007 residency in Shigaraki, Japan—home to one of the country’s six ancient kilns, where the artist has since returned to work—that he began experimenting with clay, a medium that allowed him to engage new modes of creating three-dimensional forms. The collaborative, community- oriented ethos of the residency also influenced Nara’s early work in ceramic, which included handmade sculptures as well as plates and cups produced on the wheel.
Nara’s forthcoming presentation with Pace in Seoul will spotlight the expressionistic and material qualities of his ceramics. In addition to idiosyncratic plays of shape and texture, hand-painted faces and written messages imbue the works with emotional and psychological import. The show—featuring mostly recent works that Nara produced in the past three years during an ongoing residency in Shigaraki—will be installed within cabinets and atop custom wooden tables and shelves owned by the artist. These ceramics will be situated in conversation with a selection of his drawings in an active, while deeply intimate environment, bringing into focus his sensibility of expression across different, yet inherently linked, materials and mediums.
This unique installation of Nara’s ceramics and drawings, along with objects from his personal collection, will reflect his own creativity, curiosity, and interdisciplinary approach to making. Spirited exchanges among the works and items on view will abound the space, shedding light on the artist’s process and offering visitors a window into his private world.
The artist’s exhibition in Seoul will coincide with his first institutional solo exhibition in Europe in a decade, on view at the Albertina Modern in Vienna through November 1. In October, during his presentation with Pace in the Korean capital, Nara will open a solo show at the Aomori Museum of Art in Japan.
Date: September 5 – October 21, 2023
Address: 267 Itaewon-ro, Seoul