This commitment to social activism is apparent on Nara’s social media accounts, where he is very active; his Twitter bio reads: “NO WAR! NO NUKES! LOVE & PEACE!” In addition to reaching out to his fans through digital platforms, the artist offers works more accessible to the average Nara follower, having designed skateboards, plush toys, and figurines, all of which depict his childlike characters. Fans who can’t afford Nara’s paintings can purchase these items—yet far from cheapening the artist’s work, they offer greater access to his art practice at a time when his auction prices are spiking.
In 2020, Nara’s popularity will only continue to soar: An exhibition at Dallas Contemporary
in September will showcase mostly new works, and a major monograph released through Phaidon will come out in April, coinciding with the opening of the LACMA show. After the Nara retrospective wraps in Los Angeles, it will travel to the Yuz Museum
in Shanghai, the Guggenheim Bilbao
, and the Kunsthal Rotterdam
, putting Nara’s work in front of new audiences and in regions where he has not exhibited before.
No matter where his work is shown, viewers appreciate Nara’s depiction of human emotion through his distinctive style. “He’s always been the great leveler,” Blum said. “Every sort of person quiets down in front of a Nara painting.”