Stylistically, Nara's work is a complex cocktail of sources and inspirations. He studied in Japan and Germany, which perhaps prompted a hybridization of Eastern and Western influences. Nara has a passion for British and American-born music genres, in particular punk and rock 'n' roll. As well as having the spontaneous feel of a classroom doodle, his work references children's publications and the deep psychological questions they raise.
For his exhibition at Stephen Friedman Gallery, Nara has made new paintings, drawings and sculptures. He has also collaborated with Japanese-based furniture and design team graf. graf is a creative unit that examines structures for living in its designs. By combining their creative efforts, Nara and graf aim to develop the relationship between an individual, the space they inhabit and the objects within their surroundings.
A wooden structure in the form of a studio has been built in the front gallery using reclaimed wood. Inside this structure, drawings have been pinned to the walls. Also included are traces of the artist-at-work in the form of used pencils, drinks and other paraphernalia. By choosing to work with graf, Nara has departed from the conventional method of displaying works on a traditional white wall. Instead, by exhibiting his work on the wall of a hut that is in no way a white cube, Nara has revived a form of narrative in art and heightened the relationship between art and its environment - elements that have been slowly eroded by modernism over the years.
Yoshitomo Nara has exhibited extensively around the world. Recent solo exhibitions include From the Depth of My Drawer, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Kanaz Forest of Creation, Yonago City Museum of Art, Tottori which toured to Yoshii Brick Brewhouse, Hirosaki, Aomori and the Rodin Gallery, Seoul; Over the Rainbow, Pinakothek der moderne, Munich and Shallow Puddles, graf media gm, Oasaka in 2004 and 2005. Selected group exhibitions include The Elegance of Silence : Contemporary Art From East Asia, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Little Boy, Japan Society Gallery, New York and JaPan PoP, Helsinki City Art Museum, Helsinki in 2005; Super Nova Art of the 1990's from the Logan collection, San Fransisco Museum of Modern Art; Time of My Life: Art with youthful Sprit, Tokyo Opera City, Art Gallery, Tokyo; Why not live for art? Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Tokyo; Nonsect Raddical, Yokohama Museum of Art, Kanagawa; Fiction Love, MOCA Taipei and Over the Rainbow, Pinakothek der moderne, Munich in 2004. Yoshitomo Nara is also currently exhibiting at the Yokohama Triennnale, Yokohama.