Ethan Cohen Gallery is pleased to present Akito Nara’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, entitled Ikiru wo Egaku (Painting is Living/Living is Painting). The show highlights Nara’s body of work made between 2015 and 2020 where the artist weaves together kaleidoscopic images of abstracted portraits and self-portraits that illustrate a vivid chronicle of his life between New York and Japan. The result is fresh and highly personal, reading as a visual diary as the artist steps back and forth between localities, ideas, and emotive states

Akito Nara paints abstract works, evoking the likenesses of creatures, persons, and other forms inspired from personal anecdotes and introspection. Nara's numerous self-portraits exist as interpretations of different facets of his spiritual self. He paints himself to understand his daily existence, his reactions, and his place within his environment. Influenced by organic and cosmic symbolism, Nara uses eyes and colorful deconstructed forms as stylistic anchors and motifs in creating recognizable characters to represent the deepest parts of his subjects and this world.

Akito Nara was born in Yokohama, Japan in 1988. Largely self-taught, he briefly attended the School of Visual Arts when he first arrived in New York City in 2013. Honing his skills in his studio in Brooklyn, Nara sourced inspiration from many greats, from Picasso and Dubuffet to Osamu Tekuza and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Nara’s art practice is varied and complex, with a touch of romanticism; Nara’s practice is difficult to tie into a single conceptual framework but rather speaks to the universal quest for self-discovery.