A Marriage of Tradition and Modernity: Yoshitomo Nara’s Thinker at Pace Gallery



We’re big fans of the Ramones, so we excitedly trekked out to the Queens Museum last year for the Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!: Ramones and the Birth of Punk exhibit.  (That post can be found here.)  As expected, we found a bounty of fantastic memorabilia on display.  But the exhibit also included amazing art from the likes of Sergio Aragones and Shepard Fairey.  In fact, this little gem graced the entrance:

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

The piece was commissioned specifically for the exhibit and featured a familiar character from Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara’s work.  Ramona is named in homage to the band, which the artist is an unabashed fan of.  We became familiar with some of Yoshitomo Nara’s work on a visit to MOCA in Los Angeles many years ago, but only came to learn of this link at the exhibit.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised: the Ramones enjoyed wide success in Japan.  

Yoshitomo Nara is considered part of the Japanese Neo-Pop movement, which combines elements of Japanese culture with the Western influence that flooded the country as it rapidly modernized.  His contemporary, Takashi Murakami (who we’re also fans of) coined the term “Superflat” to describe the aesthetic.  Superflat referred not only to the traditional flatness of Japanese drawing, but to the merger of art and commerce into a single layer.  



Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Yoshitomo Nara has been open about his childhood and being a latchkey kid, and how he was often left to his own devices.  His pieces appear confined in that space and time, a reflection of what a young Japanese boy obsessed with manga and punk music might produce.  His young female subjects accessorize with knives and guitars instead of lace and glitter.



Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

His latest exhibit is now on display at the Pace Gallery in Chelsea.  Thinker takes his work in a slightly different direction.  The childlike figures are still present, but they also take the form of “forest spirits”.  The forest spirits add an otherworldly component to the exhibit.  There is also a collection of jars, which again combines​ the more traditional art of ceramics with his contemporary images and sayings.  Perhaps this how Yoshitomo Nara approaches spirituality as he matures.

Thinker is on display through April 29.

Location:
510 West 25th St

Hours:
Tues-Sat 10 am – 6 pm



Pair it with:

A meal at Harold’s Meat + Three

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Chef Harold Moore wanted to offer a staple of Southern cuisine: the “Meat and Three”.  Perhaps the name gives it away, but in these restaurants diners select one meat and three sides.  But Chef Harold grew up in Northern New Jersey and has worked for both Daniel and Jean-Georges.  So what do you get when you marry a traditional staple with elite culinary training?  You get Harold’s Meat and Three, located in the spiffy Arlo Hudson Square Hotel.  

The restaurant achieves its intended juxtaposition.  The space itself is not similar to any New York City eatery.  First of all, it’s really, really big.  There’s lots of elbow room, which means you won’t “accidentally overhear” conversations.  And you won’t find the Hanger Steak and Eggs on any menu in the south.  The entrees are well executed, but the sides can be tricky.  We loved the Coleslaw and Cucumber Salad, but the Grits and the Crushed Cauliflower were excessively buttery.

Location:
2 Renwick St

Hours:
Sun-Thu 7 am – 11 pm
Fri-Sat 7 am – 11:30 pm

– L.

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