Gagosian proudly presents ‘Change the Rule!’, featuring new paintings and sculptures by Takashi Murakami. Best known for blurring the lines between fine art and commercial art, Murakami is also known for coining the term “superflat”, which explores the aesthetics of Japanese artistic tradition against the nature of post-war Japan and its society; this “superflat” theory has been used in Murakami’s own works and has influenced an array of other Japanese artists.
Once again, Murakami seamlessly blends imageries derived from commercial influences, anime, manga and traditional Japanese styles and subjects. This reveals themes and examinations into the past and present, East and West, technology and fantasy. By engaging with dystopian themes and contemporary nuances, he brings about narratives that transcend the non-conformist legacy of eighteenth-century Japanese artists in this exhibition, also known as the Edo- eccentrics.
Takashi Murakami's Mr. DOB. Image courtesy of Paddle8.
‘Change the Rule!’ exposes concoctions of Murakami’s own imageries where each new combination in turn generates new meanings. “His first character, Mr. DOB, appears in pink and blue, floating over a platinum background; stares forward with wide eyes in a painted fibre-reinforced plastic sculpture, and melts and mutates in ‘Tan Tan Bo a.k.a. Gerotan: Having vomited five viscera and six bowels along with a lump of ego, he swallows them back into his empty stomach as everything disperses into the void; along the process he starts his journey into meditation (2018)’”. A mural-sized painting depicts DOB with fidget-spinners for eyes, exploding into innumerable permutations of himself. Large cast sculptures of Kaikai (Murakami’s white rabbitlike character) and Kiki (his three-eyed pink figure) further highlights Murakami’s interest in the paradoxical, as the term kikikaikai is known to describe a tangent of danger contrasted with an appeal. Another narrative including characters from Murakami’s past Doraemon Exhibitions makes an appearance, where Doraemon and Nobita go on a journey through the Anywhere Door.
Takashi Murakami, Dragon in Clouds - Indigo Blue. Image courtesy of Gagosian.
To say Murakami’s last professional year has been hectic would be an understatement. Talks of his well-being were speculated and circulated as a result of an Instagram post he published ahead of this exhibition. In this post, he apologises for how one of his sculptures failed to meet the deadline for this Gagosian show, and would not make an appearance. He states, "In a sense it's an apology for not making the deadline but it also explains why things have turned out the way they have - it's my excuse. But by spelling things out in detail here, I hope to share with you the torment of an artist or the environment surrounding artistic creation." He then goes on to provide more context on the characters included in this show, and how 'Tan Tan Bo Puking' was influenced by the personal experiences of suffering from gout.
Over the last 18 months, his show, ‘The Octopus Eats its Own Leg’ broke the visitor record previously held by a David Bowie retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and became the most visited show in its history. Gagosian London then produced a collaboration between Murakami and Virgil Abloh, the founder of label Off-White and current creative director of Louis Vuitton. Off the back of that exhibition, Gagosian Paris held a joint show called ‘Technicolor [sic] 2’. This collaboration is said to have its third instalment in Gagosian Los Angeles soon.
Takashi Murakami's 'The Octopus Eats its Own Leg' was also previously exhibited at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris.
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