The mad genius of Takashi Murakami seizes the Vancouver Art Gallery
A wildly well received collaboration with Louis Vuitton that, for more than a decade, splattered the luxury fashion house’s bags with fluttering jellyfish eyes, aaa replica designer handbags kaleidoscopic pandas, and chipper cherry blossoms. The cover design for Kanye West’s seminal album Graduation, portraying the rapper’s “Dropout Bear” as an adorable cartoon. And a host of toys, key chains, stationery, and other tchotchkes modelled after or adorned with fanged creatures, riotous sunflowers, and strangely saccharine, many eyed beasts. If you’re one of the few people unfamiliar with the enigmatic figure that is Takashi Murakami, don’t worry: you definitely know his work.
Often compared to American pop maestro Andy Warhol, the Tokyo born artist has a knack for mashing Perfect Quality Louis Vuitton Replica the East with the West, the traditional with the contemporary, and the “high” with the “low”. This has resulted in an oeuvre that deftly references everything from nihonga, the nationalist style of Japanese painting high quality designer replica handbags in which he is formally trained, to otaku, a subculture of obsessive individuals typically consumed by anime or manga and a group that Murakami once considered himself a part of to ykai, a category of magical monsters, spirits, and other beings drawn from Japanese folklore. His extensive rsum includes paintings, sculptures, and films, many of which have been exhibited at the Gagosian Gallery, the Museum of Modern Discount Replica Louis Vuitton Bags Art, the Palace of cheap replica handbags Versailles, and other esteemed institutions.
Tokyo’s Takashi Murakami mixes East and West, traditional and contemporary, “high” and “low”. Maria Ponce Berre “He straddles the concerns of multiple worlds,” Diana Freundl, associate curator of Asian art at the Vancouver Art Gallery, explained by Designer Louis Vuitton Replica Handbags phone. “He’s trained in techniques of nihongayet he’s very keen to incorporate the visual culture of contemporary Japan and also Euro replica designer handbags America.”
For all Murakami’s talents in mixing and melding the new and the old to create stunning, exceptionally ornate pieces, however, nothing compares to the artist’s incredible business acumen, which, for over three decades, has ensured a rare reality in the contemporary art world: his works are not only appreciated by and accessible to the wider public, but also highly profitable. This can be seen in his relationships with brands such as Vans, Billionaire Boys Club, and Casio, but also in his willingness to, say, offer miniature figurines of his creations in vending machines or for free with the purchase of a pack of specially marked gum.
“For contemporary artists, the surface doesn’t touch the business,” Murakami said during a recent whirlwind trip to Vancouver to prepare for the VAG’s presentation of his retrospective, The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, which is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and curated by Michael Darling. “But the truth is [they’re] very connected.”
Release Chakra’s gate at this instant by Takashi Murakami cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk , from 2008.”> Release Chakra’s gate at this instant by Takashi Murakami, from 2008. Courtesy of the artist and Blum Poe Forgoing a translator and his usual outlandish attire the artist is known to rock costumes that he designs and high quality replica handbags china crafts himself in favour of a quilted bomber, chinos www.dolabuy.su , and bucket hat, Murakami recalled for the Straight a visit he paid to a prestigious gallery in his hometown when he was studying at the Tokyo University of the Arts in the ’80s. Although the paintings he saw there were impressive, he said he was baffled by the unaffordability of the pieces, which restricted them to the hands of the wealthy. He vowed to “level” the playing or paying field once he became a working artist. “That’s why my philosophical, conceptual thing is flatness,” he said. “We cannot survive without money.”
Followers of Murakami will know that this “flatness” is derived from his “Superflat” theory, a term he coined in 2000 that refers to both the two dimensional style of art originating from manga and anime, and a postmodern movement that blurs the boundaries between high and low culture. This model has served to inform the 55 year old artist’s career ever since, from the creation and implementation of original characters like Mr. DOB, a floating, shape shifting head reminiscent of Mickey Mouse that functions as Murakami’s alter ego, to his readiness to churn out merchandise for the masses inspired by such figures he first propels into the realm of high art. “When you look through the trajectory of his practice, although we can see distinct changes, distinct moments in his career or turning points,” noted Freundl, “there’s still this idea of things coming together.”
Magic Ball II.”> Takashi Murakami’s 1999 canvas Magic Ball II. Nathan Keay Although these manga influenced pieces and commercial collabs still constitute a large portion of Murakami’s most significant work The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg will even feature a fresh set of paintings that revisits his high profile partnership with West in recent years, the artist has pivoted back to his nihonga roots, incorporating Buddhist imagery and reimagining some of his most popular motifs according to Japanese decorative traditions. Murakami traces this shift to the 2011 Thoku earthquake and tsunami, which devastated Japan and left nearly 16,000 people dead, prompting him to turn to faith as a way to help those affected heal.
“The children have to understand the reality, but cannot because parents are gone,” he said of the victims. “The friends of these children adults say this line, ‘Your parents go to high quality designer replica handbags the star, to the other world.’ I saw this as very primitive, religion becoming a moment. But human beings like in movies, TV need a story, so I completely understood.”
This stream of thought eventually gave way to The 500 Arhats, a stirring, enormously detailed 100 metre long painting that Murakami has called “my Guernica”. It depicts 500 of Buddha’s enlightened disciples, each of them cheap louis vuitton bags from china based upon a historical monk who would appear to provide comfort during times of distress or disaster. A smaller, 10 panel iteration, titled 100 Arhats, will be displayed at the VAG as part of The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg. A number of other works in the 55 piece retrospective will critique and reflect upon what Freundl describes as “trans cultural” themes, such as globalization and media culture, too. atomic bombings referenced through playful mushroom clouds as well as the ongoing threat of nuclear power dominate a measure of the exhibition. The artist considers these visual musings a “super low level reaction”.
“My brain is almost child[like], same level. Not sophisticated,” he explained in complete seriousness. “So, ‘Oh my God, nuclear power plant bombing! Oh my God, very scary!’ That is my feeling.”
Klein’s Pot A joins 50 plus works from three decades.”> Takashi Murakami’s Klein’s Pot A joins 50 plus works from three decades. Yoshitaka Uchida Visitors to The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, which is being presented at the VAG as Murakami’s first retrospective in Canada after its debut at the MCA last summer, will be able to follow the artist’s career over 30 years, from early works inspired by peers like Anselm Kiefer and Jeff Koons, to the vibrant, cartoonish canvases of Superflat’s peak, to the grand, vastly ambitious, and historically driven paintings of today, which he produces with an army of assistants at Kaikai Kiki Co., his art production and artist management company. The gallery’s rotunda, meanwhile, will house a five metre tall sculpture, elaborate wallpaper installations, and a selection of new paintings some of them in progress that Murakami has crafted for the VAG. “It’s going to be visually stimulating, pretty intense in that space,” said Freundl.
Perhaps a sign of things to come in Vancouver, The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg shattered the MCA’s attendance record, seeing more than 193,000 visitors over a period of three months. For Freundl high quality replica handbags china , it’s no surprise that the luminary has so many adoring and curious fans. “I think that’s one of his driving interests: that scale,” she said. “Those multiple themes, layers, and crossing of genres from pop culture to subculture to collaborations with fashion houses and musicians.
Fast Murakami factsAn artist, designer, filmmaker, and scholar of mass production and consumption: it’s difficult to sum up Takashi Murakami’s influence on the contemporary art world, but describing the madly eccentric artist himself is even harder. Here are seven random facts to know about the visionary before you take in his highly anticipated retrospective, The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
He has a dog named Pom
Murakami adopted a puppy named Pom in 2009, telling Interview magazine that he picked her up while vacationing on the Japanese island of Yoronjima. The artist is so fond of Pom whom he’s described as a mix of Japanese breeds he’s even incorporated her into a number of works and tacked her name onto the ends of his Twitter and Instagram handles.
He’s notorious for power napping
An unabashed workaholic, Murakami is infamous for napping, even going as far as to bring sleeping bags with him to galleries where he is setting up. “He literally works 24/7,” Diana Freundl, associate curator of replica louis vuitton Asian art at the VAG, said by phone. “It’s actually pretty impressive and frightening at the same time.”
He rubs shoulders with hip hop heavyweights
Murakami’s collabs with Kanye West and Pharrell Williams have kept him in close contact with the rappers, and his fan club includes other high wattage figures in hip hop. Most recently, Drake Instagrammed a pile of sunflower shaped cushions that Murakami had given him, captioning the photo with a message that called the artist “my friend and a true legend”.
He’s a huge fan of manga and anime
Given the influence of manga and anime on his work, it’s no surprise that Murakami is an admirer of those genres. Among his favourite works? Anything by Hayao Miyazaki, he told the Straight, and Made in Abyss, an ongoing manga series that follows a young girl who befriends a humanoid robot.
He breeds lotus plants and beetles
In addition to taking care of his beloved Pom, Murakami breeds lotus plants, guppies, and beetles. In 2013, he told W magazine that he’s also owned a turtle and hermit crabs over the years.