Simultaneously cute and menacing, Yoshitomo Nara's images of young children and childhood pets offer an engaging and enigmatic Pop Art for the new millennium. Sara McEneaney's paintings draw us into her personal world with an engaging combination of intimacy, directness, and imagination. Also a series of commissioned works for the ICA Ramp: Naming Tokyo (Part III), by New York-based artist Aleksandra Mir. SmartWrap: Imagine bricks and mortar being replaced by 'smart' walls that are made of an ultra-thin polymer-based film-the same material used in a plastic soda bottle.
Yoshitomo Nara: Nothing Ever Happens
January 24 - April 4, 2004
Preview Reception: Friday, January 23, 6-8pm
Exhibition Walkthrough: Friday, January 23, 5pm
Simultaneously cute and menacing, Yoshitomo Nara's images of young children and childhood pets offer an engaging and enigmatic Pop Art for the new millennium. Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland and curated by Kristin Chambers, "Nothing Ever Happens" will include paintings, drawings, and sculptures created by Nara since 1997, many of which have never been shown publicly.
The prolific and soft-spoken Nara is internationally recognized for his neo-pop style paintings and sculptures that feature big-eyed, alternately sad, mischievous, or even malevolent children. Born in 1959, Nara was raised during an era in Japan defined by economic re-development and working families. Like many Japanese children of this era, Nara was a "latch-key kid" who spent time out of school with only his imagination and pets for company. "My art represents my childhood experiences. It is not influenced by Japanese pop culture. I played with sheep, cats and dogs when I came home from school," says Nara.
Although some draw parallels to manga, the popular Japanese comic-strip form, with its child heroes and grim adult backdrops, Nara's children stand apart and alone with their direct gazes and acid grins that hint at much more adult states like fear, anxiety, and vengefulness, if not outright psychosis. In contrast, his tender and friendly dogs offer absolution and tranquility.
Nara invites us to return to a time when innocence and unruliness went hand in hand, when emotions were not expected to be filtered, when make-believe was not equated with lunacy and when the world was a fantastic and terrifying kingdom to be explored, not conquered. His works, which enjoy a cult status in his native Japan and are among the most recognizable of contemporary art images, appeal to a range of generations, nationalities, and temperaments. They are peppered now into the fabric of American pop culture. Adored by everyone from art critics to punk kids, Nara's figures haunt galleries and museums and adorn T-shirts, CD cases, ashtrays and clocks. Like his rebel heroesâ€”Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, Mike Ness of Social Distortion and Green Day's Billie Joe; Nara has the ability to speak for a generation.
Sprout the Ambassador, 2001, Acrylic on canvas, 82 x 78 inches, Collection of Jacob and Ruth Bloom, Los Angeles
About the Artist
Yoshitomo Nara was born in 1959 in Aomori Prefecture, Japan. Nara, who currently lives and works in Tokyo, received his BFA (1985) and an MFA (1987) from the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music. Between 1988 and 1993, Nara studied at the Kunstakademie DÃ¼ssledorf, in DÃ¼sseldorf, Germany. Nara has exhibited widely in his native Japan and abroad. In the United States, he gained national attention as part of the popular group exhibitions, Super Flat (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2000); My reality: Contemporary Art and the Culture of Japanese Animation (Des Moines Art Center, 2001),and Almost Warm and Fuzzy: Childhood and Contemporary Art, (Des Moines Art Center, 2001). Nara has had nearly 40 solo exhibitions since 1984.
About the Catalog
Title: Yoshitomo Nara: Nothing Ever Happens
Includes essays by curator Kristin Chambers, Josh Kun, ICA's Ingrid Schaffner, and contributions by Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day); Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney); John Doe (X); author Dave Eggers; Lars Frederickson (Rancid); Deborah Harry (Blondie); Nara; Leonard Nimoy; and others. It is a soft-cover publication with 45 color plates, $29.95. Co-published by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland and Perceval Press, Los Angeles.
About the Limited Edition Print
To Celebrate the exhibition "Yoshitomo Nara: Nothing Ever Happens", ICA has commissioned the limited edition print In the Cloud, 2003. This unique lithograph, in a limited edition of 150, is signed and numbered by the artist and printed at Kido Press, Japan. The remaining prints are now available from ICA for $1000, plus shipping and handling. Quantities are extremely limited, so reserve yours now. Limit two per person. Purchases help underwrite the Yoshitomo Nara exhibition. To order, contact Denise Berry at ICA, 215.898.4980 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Penn Students: Win a Nara Print!
Friday, January 23, 2004 5pm
With exhibition curator Kristin Chambers and Lewis Harrington, Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Pennsylvania Film: Japanese Anime
February 4, 2004
* Tour of Yoshitomo Nara Exhibition: 6pm at ICA galleries (free)
* Film: 7pm at International House, 3701 Chestnut Street, 7pm, Now Free!! (One block from ICA).
As part of the programming for "Yoshitomo Nara: Nothing Ever Happens" ICA presents a guided tour of "Yoshitomo Nara: Nothing Ever Happens" followed by an evening of anime at International House featuring Gainax Productions, creators of Evangelion, FLCL and Mahoromatic.
Untitled, 2002, Pencil and colored pencil on paper, 11 3/4 x 8 1/4 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York
January 24 - April 4, 2004
McEneaney's paintings draw us into her personal world with an engaging combination of intimacy, directness, and imagination. In her rich autobiographical paintings, every detail is accounted for, but the work itself is as flat, fantastic and miniaturist as the Persian, Indian and Early Renaissance art that inspires her. Florine Stettheimer, Reginald Marsh, and Frida Kahlo come to mind, as other artists who have narrated their own lives and in the process, depicted life conducted in and around the studio. "I paint about my life but these are not solely my stories. When art is genuinely personal it is also universal," she says.
Working primarily in egg tempera, McEneaney's painting process is labor-intensive and does not permit frequent overpainting or corrections. She prepares her own paint from egg yolk and powdered pigment, and mixes her gesso (background surface) from powdered limestone and rabbit-skin glue. The paintings, built in layers, bear the tactility and intimacy of handcrafted objects.
â€œThrough strong color and by repeating details that often accumulate into abstract passages, Ms. McEneaney makes every centimeter of canvas count.â€ Roberta Smith, New York Times
The ICA exhibition is comprised of approximately 60 works from 1986 to the present including panel paintings, works on paper and sculpture. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog with an extended essay by exhibition curator Ingrid Schaffner and a series of short, close readings of specific paintings by various authors including the creative non-fiction writer Rob Nixon, the critic and artist Eileen Neff, and the poet Lisa Sewell.
Meteor Shower, 2002, Egg tempera on wood, 48 x 60 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Schlesinger
McEneaney, 48, has been living and painting in Philadelphia since 1973, when she enrolled in the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) and the city features prominently in her work. Since 1980 she has lived in a converted Chinatown area carriage house that serves as her home and studio. Her paintings are in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and other public, private, and corporate collections. She is a recipient of a Leeway Foundation Grant (2003), a Pew Fellowship Grant (1993) and Yaddo Fellowships (1995, 1997),
Aleksandra Mir: NAMING TOKYO (Part III)
January 24 - April 4, 2004
Opening Reception: Friday, January 23, 6-8pm
The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is pleased to announce the fifth in a series of commissioned works for the ICA Ramp: NAMING TOKYO (Part III), by New York-based artist Aleksandra Mir. In response to the frequent Western complaint that Tokyo is difficult to navigate, Mir has interviewed artists, students, politicians and business people internationally to help her come up with an alternate, more user-friendly identity for the city. The fictitious street names and hypothetical neighborhoods produced by this research find their place on a giant map of Tokyo applied to the Ramp wall. In addition, Mir had some of these absurdist designations made into actual street signs, fabricated by the New York Department of Transportation in yellow, red and blue. These are hung around the map, creating a forest of names and graphic cues. Rich in pop cultural reference and good-natured ironyâ€”one set of streets takes its name from Rolling Stones song titles, off Exile on Main Street, of courseâ€”Mir's "new" Tokyo suggests that our understanding of cities derives from the imagination, built by fantasy as much as fact.
Aleksandra Mir (b. 1967, Lublin, Poland) will be included in the upcoming 2004 Whitney Biennial. She has exhibited her work throughout the United States and abroad, with one-artist projects at Serpentine Gallery, London; Kunsthalle St. Gallen, Switzerland; and CCAC-Wattis Institute, Berkeley, California. Projects have been commissioned by the Public Art Fund, New York; Dazed & Confused magazine, London; and the Swisss media conglomerate Ringier. Mir is the author of Corporate Mentality, an anthology documenting collaborations between artists and corporations, recently published by Lukas & Sternberg. Additional details will be available on www.icaphila.org on December 14.
ICA Ramp Project
Since 2000, ICA has commissioned artist installations for its 92' ramp, a transitional space that connects the first and second floor galleries. With its striking architecture and soaring windows overlooking 36th street, the Ramp has been transformed into a dynamic programmed exhibition space, exposing the public to the contemporary art that is central to the ICA's mission.
January 24 - April 4, 2004
Opening Reception: Friday, January 23, 2004, 6-8pm
Imagine bricks and mortar being replaced by "smart" walls that are made of an ultra-thin polymer-based film-the same material used in a plastic soda bottle. And imagine that the technology used to make these walls "smart" is applied by a printing process. SmartWrap is a concept for a new building material that integrates the segregated functions of a conventional wall, like shelter and insulation, and compresses them into one composite film that can be erected in a fraction of ordinary building time. Previously exhibited at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, SmartWrap will be installed in the ICA lobby with interpretive materials exhibited in the ICA Project Space. The installation at ICA shows how SmartWrap can be customized with pattern or color using printing technology -- a dramatic development with potential for transforming not only architecture but also all aspects of design in the next decade.
Designed by the Philadelphia architecture firm KieranTimberlake Associates LLP, the installation will be on view from January 24 through April 4.
KieranTimberlake Associates LLP is an award-winning and internationally published architecture firm noted for its research and innovation. Their emphasis on cross discipline research has been a key force in their progressive research. The genesis for this SmartWrap project was in research laboratory studios conducted by partners Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake with graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania. This research has been extended through the inaugural award of the American Institute of Architect's national design research prize, the Benjamin Henry Latrobe Fellowship.
â€œIdeally, the only limitation to the type of technology that can be incorporated into the SmartWrap is that it must be capable of being miniaturized and suspended in printing ink. Does this mean that we will soon see the day when the basic technology used to activate a building becomes virtually invisible? Will architects assume an additional role of graphic designer to determine not only the technological programming of a building, but how it looks on the faÃ§ade? SmartWrap proposes all of this and more, but most importantly, relies on the creative potential of the architect, designer, and engineer to make it happen.â€ -- Matilda McQuaid, Exhibitions Curator and Head of Textiles, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Times.
SmartWrap is part of ICA's Design + Architecture Series. These exhibitions introduce cutting-edge architecture and design to Philadelphia audiences, and enables internationally renowned architects and designers to realize their ideas in a museum setting. Series exhibitions have included "Intricacy" curated by Greg Lynn; "Stratascape", curated by Asymptote and Karim Rashid; "The Architectural Unconscious: James Casebere and Glen Seator", and "Hella Jongerius and Jurgen Bey".
SmartWrap was first presented in Summer 2003 at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution; the installation was made possible by DuPont.
Special thanks to Matilda McQuaid, Exhibition Curator and Head of Textiles, Cooper-Hewitt. National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
The Institute of Contemporary Art
University of Pennsylvania, 118 South 36th Street at Sansom, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: 215.898.7108 Fax: 215.898.5050