A rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of this critically acclaimed artist and pop culture figure, Traveling with Yoshitomo Nara is an intimate, day-to-day portrait of the man whose vibrant and evocative paintings of knowing children—sometimes sardonic and alienated, sometimes wistfully dreaming—have come to personify a generation of youth culture.
The film documents his largest work to date, following Nara on a remarkable 240-day international road trip as he sets out to create an imaginary town populated by his iconic images and enigmatic sculptures. Nara scouts for inspiration as he travels to Seoul, New York, Osaka, London and Bangkok as well as other locations, collaborating with members of the design team GRAF and encountering friends, journalists and fans along the way.
Born in the town of Hirosaki—the site of the film’s final installation—Nara studied abroad in Germany for a number of years before relocating to Tokyo where he now lives and works. He first garnered attention during Japan’s growing Pop Art movement in the early ‘90s. Today his images are as likely to be found on a T-shirt or cd cover as in a major museum. Creating accessible yet emotionally complex work, Nara has managed to maintain a seemingly effortless position between two very different sides of the art world. The film explores his art process and reserved character through interviews, studio work and spontaneous moments, capturing the atmosphere of Nara’s work by evoking a quietly organic quality to mirror the spirit of his imagination.