Born on 5 December 1959, Yoshitomo Nara is a Japanese artist who works across numerous mediums, but is best known for his cartoonish paintings of sullen children and animals. Earning both his BFA and MFA from the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music, and later studying at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf during the late 1980s, Nara has consistently drawn inspiration from eastern and western sources. Nara’s childhood in post-war Japan – a time of increased exposure to Western pop culture such as comic books, Disney animation and popular music – is often cited as an early influence of Nara’s work. Although the artist has maintained that he has not been inspired by Japanese manga, his use of highly stylized, large-eyed figures has often drawn the comparison from critics. Instead, he has asserted that his work, which often juxtaposes seemingly innocent representations of children with sinister expressions or objects like knives, is instead spiritually based and made with religious and philosophical imperatives in mind.