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Sotheby's to offer private collection of works by renowned Contemporary Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara
White Night. Acrylic on canvas, 2006, 162.4 x 130.4 cm. Est. HK$4.8–6.4 million / US$620,000-$830,000. ©Yoshitomo Nara. Photo: Sotheby's.

HONG KONG.- Sotheby’s Hong Kong announced the sale of the world’s first private collection dedicated to the works of renowned contemporary Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara (b.1959)–You Are Not Alone-Yoshitomo Nara Works from the Kurokochi Collection, to take place on 5 April at Hall 5, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The Collection, amassed between 1988 and 2006 by Mr. Shun Kurokochi, an ordinary man working at a bank in Tokyo, comprises 35 lots, ranging from acrylic on canvas, works on paper, edition prints to products such as wristwatches and skateboard. All the works, preserved in pristine condition, are fresh to the auction market, and have been published and showcased in various important Nara exhibitions worldwide including I Don’t Mind, If You Forget Me and Nara + graf : A to Z. With some of the works dating back to the late 1980s when the artist was in his late twenties, this Collection, estimated to fetch in excess of HK$18 million / US$2.4 million*, is a retrospective of Nara’s artistic career and a testimony of the unique connection between the collector and the artist in the past two decades.

Kurokochi, who has been living and working abroad for over a year now, has been a keen supporter of Naral ong before the artist shot to international fame and the two developed a unique personal connection through his collecting journey. Nara has always addressed the loneliness in his childhood as a central theme in his work. It is precisely this feeling that connects him with collectors including Kurokochi, who built an extraordinary art collection by saving up in exchange for Nara’s works–you feel lonely, but you are not alone.

Evelyn Lin, Sotheby’s Head of Contemporary Asian Art, enthuses: “We are honoured to present You Are Not Alone-Yoshitomo Nara Works from the Kurokochi Collection, the world’s first auction of a private collection dedicated to the Yoshitomo Nara’s works, alongside our Spring Sale Series this year. From collecting Nara’s works, following Nara’s footsteps around the globe, to interacting with the artist, Kurokochi regards art as an important part of his life. His endeavour truly inspires art lovers who intend to collect art they appreciate. Art collection is indeed not an unaffordable luxury.”

Shun Kurokochi, the owner of the collection, says: “Assembled over nearly two decades, these works reminisce of childhood longings that I still feel as an adult. Being a lonely child myself, I see myself in the lonely and annoyed-looking children in Nara’s works, and I wished to do for them everything I craved from my loved ones. This strong affinity drove me to give up the small luxuries in life in exchange for these works. Through collecting I developed a personal relationship with the artist whose intelligence I admire greatly. I am now ready to part with this Collection, and I believe through Sotheby’s they will find new owners who are equally touched by them.”


White Night acrylic on canvas 2006 162.4 x 130.4 cm Est. HK$4.8 –6.4 million /US$620,000 -830,000

White Night represents a significant shift in the colour palette in Nara’s work, consisted of multi-layered paint and brushstrokes. The eyes of the girl, in particular, are no longer in two or three solid tones, but rather encompass a full range of hues and shades. It is an important work that displays the highly imbued sentimentality within the artist’s mature career phase. It was created during a crucial transition period in Nara’s career in 2000s after he began to collaborate closely with the architecture and design collective, graf, in 2003. It was showcased in one of Nara’s most elaborate solo exhibitions to date, Nara + graf : A to Z.

Sleepless Night acrylic on canvas 1997 120 x 110 cm Est. HK$3.2 –4.8 million /US$410,000 - 620,000

The pastel colour palette and sharpened contours of the eyes critically define the beloved style that became internationally recognised in the 1990s. While the blue dress is frequently seen in many of his works, the full-body portrait is an essential composition that constantly reappears throughout the artist’s entire oeuvre as well.

Lamp Flower Girl acrylic on canvas 1993 150.3 x 140cm Est. HK$2 –2.8 million / US$260,000 – 360,000

First exhibited at Nara’s solo exhibition–Be Happy, at Galerie Humanite in Nagoya, Lamp Flower Girl belongs to Nara’s earliest body of work that featured children as the main theme. The bold black outline and solid colour tone signify two major characteristics inhis aesthetics from the early to mid-1990s, shortly after his study at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. The composition of the large head, high forehead and bulbous facial features, especially the elongated eyes, together formed a crucial prototype to the extremely popular iconic style that emerged in mid-1990s.

Pale Egg Mountain acrylic on canvas 1999 50x40 cm Est. HK$ 650,000 –950,000/ US $80,000 –120,000

Arguably the most popular icon in Nara’s work aside from the children portrait,the sleepy-eyed puppy also dominates his drawings, paintings and sculptural works. Pale Egg Mountain depicts a close-up of the well-liked animal that certainly reveals a much closer resemblance with his human counterpart.

Drawing for Argentine Hag (set of fifteen) acrylic, coloured pencil on paper 2002 biggest: 34.3 x 36.3 cm; smallest: 17.5 x 20 cm Est. HK$1.2 –1.6 million / US $160,000 –210,000

This exceptional set of works serves as illustrations for the novel Argentine Hag by Japanese author Banana Yoshimoto, and is thus rarely seen in the market. Many of the motifs in the work, such as pyramids and dolphins, are not only visually distinctive, but also uniquely situated within Nara’s practice. The novel’s subsequent adaption into a film further highlights the subtle relationship of Nara’s work with popular culture.

Chick the Ambassador acrylic on canvas 1993 100 x 90 cm Est. HK$800,000–1.2 million / US$100,000 –160,000

The chick from Chick the Ambassador can frequently be seen in Nara’s works from 1993. It is one of the few animals to have been depicted by Nara in his expanding oeuvre and represents the earliest artistic practice of the artist.

Kai-Ten acrylic painted on cotton mounted on fiberglass reinforced plastic 2001 58 x 58 x 18 cm Est. HK$1.2 –1.6 million / US$160,000 -210,000

Made with acrylic paint on cotton on fiberglass reinforced plastic, Kai-Ten signifies Nara’s experimental attempt in shifting towards three-dimensional paintings. The circular dish-shaped work challenges viewers in re-interpreting the traditional plane of painting, and remains one of Nara’s most exciting medium ever applied.

Pandora's Box acrylic on canvas 1990 90.4 x90.2 cm Est. HK$800,000–1.2 million / US$100,000 -160,000

Painted in 1993, Pandora’s Box embodies various intriguing themes from Nara’s practice. The girl in the work is seen stepping in a water puddle, one of the most ubiquitous motifs in his works. The piece also draws on the reference from the Pandora’s Box from Greek mythology.

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