Yoshitomo Nara became the most expensive Japanese artist after his monumental painting Knife Behind Back was sold for HK$195.7m (US$25m) this October. This November, Christie’s Hong Kong continues the momentum by presenting another masterpiece by Nara as a focal point of this season sale. Can’t Wait ‘til the Night Comes, which will be offered in its stand-alone sale, is expected to fetch HK$80m (US$10.22m).
The painting was exhibited in Yokohama Museum of Art, NARA Yoshitomo: a bit like you and me in 2012
Knife Behind Back was sold for a record HK$195.7m (US$25m) this October
Created by Yoshitomo Nara in 2012, Can’t Wait ‘til the Night Comes was acquired by the present owner from Blum and Poe, Los Angeles, United States. It was exhibited in several major shows in Yokohama, Aomori, Kumamoto, Toyota and London between 2012-2017.
In order to understand the origin of the present work, it is important to understand the origin of the artist himself. Born in Hirosaki, Japan, a town that is characterized by long, snowy winters, a young Nara spent much of his time indoors as the latchkey child to working class parents. Left therefore, to the resources of an active yet introspective young imagination, it is of no coincidence that Nara’s heroic characters champion independence, defiance, mischief, alluding to the complex emotional state of his own childhood.
Presently, the adult Nara surrounds himself with a select few, only accessed by an intimate circle within his inner personal sanctum. Known to paint late into the evening thusly rising only well into the mature hours of the day, Nara himself is a brazen and direct parallel to the vampire protagonist of the present painting, a mythical yet fearsome figure that is characterized by a lethal yet lonesome nocturnal existence. Perhaps Nara, as an aesthetic vampire, is in excited anticipation of the solitary night hours for his painterly mischief to create Can’t Wait ‘til the Night Comes.
The creation of Can’t Wait ‘til the Night Comes
The creation of Can’t Wait ‘til the Night Comes
Nara has continually employed impish figures not only as subjects, but also as stand-ins for emotional states and reactions. Can’t Wait ‘til the Night Comes is therefore born from his own nostalgic views on childhood, and yet, Nara’s characters reflect a transposition of these values onto today’s world. Deceptively innocent on the exterior, upon close inspection, the figure exhibits one small, pointed tooth that draws the eye and acts as the conceit and hostility.
Taking nearly a year to realize, the neutral cream background is impossibly born from layers of chromatic underpainting. Depicting a bust-length portrait of a smirking youth, the painting is rendered in the utmost mature iteration of the artist’s signature style. Possessing a decided menacing air, the severe point where the fringe of bangs converge, mimics the severity of the protruding fang. And yet, the most poignant feature of the figure is her confrontational and beckoning stare.
Knife Behind Back (left) and Can't Wait 'til the Night Comes (right)
A HK$100 bill with doodles by Yoshitomo Nara was sold for HK$450,000
Can’t Wait ‘til the Night Comes will be presented as a high-value lot with its estimate upon request (we have learnt that it is valued at HK$80m). It will go under the hammer in its single-lot sale on 23 November at Christie’s in Hong Kong. With Nara’s growing popularity among Asian collectors, the final price sold is very likely to go beyond the estimate and reach the HK$100m benchmark. Please stay tuned.
If you miss the chance to view this painting this autumn season, you can still take a look at it in person when it goes on view in other museums. The painting has been selected by Los Angeles County Museum of Art for its exhibition planned to be held tentatively from April 2020 to August 2020; by YUZ Museum for its exhibition planned to be held tentatively from September 2020 to January 2021; by Guggenheim (Bilbao, Spain) and Kunsthal (Rotterdam, Netherlands) for their exhibitions planned to be held tentatively from January 2021 to September 2021.
Can’t Wait ‘til the Night Comes | acrylic on canvas
Lot no.: 54A
Size: 193.2 x 183.2cm
- Blum and Poe, Los Angeles, United States.
- Yokohama, Japan, Yokohama Museum of Art, NARA Yoshitomo: a bit like you and me..., July - September
- 2012, This exhibition later travelled to Aomori, Japan, Aomori Museum of Art, June 2012 – January 2013, and Kumamoto, Japan, Contemporary Art Museum, January – April 2014.
- London, UK, Dairy Art Centre, Yoshitomo Nara: Greetings from a Place in My Heart, October - December 2014.
- Toyota, Japan, Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Yoshitomo Nara for better or worse: Works 1987-2017, July – September 2017.
Estimate on request (HK$80m)
Auction house: Christie’s Hong Kong
Venue: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Sale: Can't Wait 'til the Night Comes: A Masterpiece by Yoshitomo Nara, 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale
Lots offered: 1
Preview: 22-23 November 2019 | 10am - 7pm
Auction date: 23 November 2019 (20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale starts at 5:30pm and followed by the single-lot sale of Can't Wait 'til the Night Comes: A Masterpiece by Yoshitomo Nara, 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale)