Sometimes you get a double whammy of joy from a solo exhibition in contemporary art. You have the works, of course, but also the artist themselves might have determined the layout. As is the case with Yoshitomo Nara’s All My Little Words exhibition at the Albertina Modern.
- Focus on the artist’s drawings
- Chronological layout
- …and excellent music, I might add
- Runs May 10 – Nov 1, 2023
- See also:
All my little words
(Yoshitomo Nara, exhibition view: Yoshitomo Nara – ALBERTINA MODERN; courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery | © Yoshitomo Nara | Photo: © Sandro E. E. Zanzinger)
I recently started drawing classes, a prospect that probably has my school art teacher weeping into her tea and wondering if she can wipe her name from my school records.
So any exhibition with a focus on drawing, rather than the more usual paintings or sculptures, has my guaranteed interest. Especially when the artist in question is a renowned global figure like Yoshitomo Nara, perhaps known best for his “Angry Girls.”
Nara’s stylized images in All my Little Words give these young girls a defiant self-confidence behind what might be seen as a more innocent aesthetic.
A closer look often reveals (to me, anyway) a weary cynicism edged with grumpiness: a fair response given the world we older generations seem intent on leaving for the kids. A degree of vulnerability creeps in, too, particularly in more recent works, where the faces feel a little sadder and more accusing.
Those final images seem to ask…
So what are you going to do about it?
“It” being the state of things. What indeed?
Many drawings remind me of comic con culture, which is an environment where everyone can be as they are without fear: an unexpected utopia for those who society often wishes to sideline or force into behavioural constraints.
(Yoshitomo Nara, exhibition view: My Drawing Room 2008 (exterior view), bedroom included, 2008; courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery | © Yoshitomo Nara | Photo: © Sandro E. E. Zanzinger)
The images certainly suggest an artist of thought and nuance. Back in 2018, Nara himself described his work so:
I have been drawing as though I were breathing. Or taking notes. Or thinking.
As such, all sorts of influences seem to lie behind the output we see in the exhibition, from music through to the lived moment and sociopolitical expression.
The different paper materials – from corrugated cardboard to the backs of envelopes – add a layer of immediacy and authenticity, too: nothing feels contrived.
Though drawings dominate, the works on display include some paintings, sculptures and a large installation that creates a version of a studio environment that offers insight into the artist’s modus operandi.
That same installation includes a soundtrack. Yoshitomo Nara is clearly a man of musical taste, and I found myself wishing we had the playlist. And we do! (Look in one of the corners of the room for a list and QR code.)
Dates, tickets & tips
Enjoy Nara’s mastery from May 10th to November 1st, 2023. A valid entrance ticket for or from the Albertina Modern includes the exhibition (the museum has no permanent display).
For further contemporary drawing, the Albertina has a George Baselitz exhibition for some of the same time showcasing his recent donation to the museum and the Morgan Library.
For drawing that’s a mite less contemporary than Nara or Baselitz, the main Albertina museum also has the Bruegel and his Time exhibition (only until May 24th, though) and then the standout Michelangelo & Beyond exhibition from mid-September.
How to get there
Just follow the tips on the main Albertina Modern page. (The location is central, just on the edge of the old town.)
Address: Karlsplatz 5, 1010 Vienna