See Yoshitomo Nara’s Yuletide Drawing “Merry Christmas!”

Much like the image recently disseminated as Banksy‘s Christmas card — though since revealed to be several years old — Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara‘s sketch “Merry Christmas!” (1999-2000, pictured) expresses an enthusiastic though ambiguous attitude towards today’s holiday.

The small pencil and ink drawing, which belongs to the Museum of Modern Art‘s permanent collection, features several of Nara’s trademark cartoonish child figures, including one, at center, whose red hat seems to be a factory smokestack, and another on the right who is also a potted plant.

An enigmatic and possibly blind bird-headed figure sits near the center of the composition with a cane in its hand, while cryptic ghost-like characters — possibly the oft-invoked Ghosts of Christmas Past — float nearby. The drawing’s red-dominated palette, however, is distinctly Christmas-y.

Another work by Nara, “Dream Time” (2011), doubled as a holiday card for the Pace Gallery, which represents him.

— Benjamin Sutton

(Image: Yoshitomo Nara, “Merry Christmas!,” 1999-2000; Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art.)