Here it is:
Is a Ph.D. in fine art a pre-requisite for the production of sexually offensive, hyper-color, infantile comic book styled corporate clutter? If your name is Takashi Murakami than the answer is, “yes”. The self-proclaimed creator of a new art movement entitled Superflat, which refers to what Murakami has defined as the lack of distinction in Japan between high and low art, as the flat space in between. A trend he points to in traditional as well as contemporary Japanese art. According to the artist, “Japanese don’t like serious art. But if I can transform cute characters into serious art, they will love my piece.”
Murakami maintains that his goal is to question the Japanese obsession with western art and immature consumerism, by blurring the lines between art and commerce. However, rather than critiquing this shift, his work further intensifies the magnetism. Murakami describes postwar Japanese impotence as a void, popularly obscured by Hello Kitty dolls that the artist has stepped in to fill with ultra commercial merchandise as art. A man who can sell paintings for 1.3 million and toy figures for 50 bucks a pop has demonstrated his capabilities as a marketing genius. Perhaps his designation as the new Andy Warhol and best contemporary Japanese pop artist is just another example of his promotional mastery.
Born in Tokyo in 1962 from working class parents, Murakami earned a BA, MFA, and Ph.D. in traditional Nihonga painting from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Growing up, he was a member of the Otaku geek subculture, which centers around anime (cartoons) and manga (comic books) that often depict the explosion of the atomic bomb and gritty realities in post-war Japan. They also sometimes serve as outlets for repressed sexual fantasies. Otaku are mainly young Japanese men, who like American trekies or renaissance fair enthusiasts, collect figurines, and go to trade shows, except in this case the figures are often sparsely glad young girls called, bishojo.
As otaku relates to Murakami’s art it is a borrowing from cartoons and animations with the sexual or grotesque element almost made palatable by containing a somewhat child-friendly veneer. The latter is the imposition of an element called kawaii, or cuteness. This presence is found increasingly in his more recent work. Paintings such as Tan Tan Bo capture a combination of otaku and kawaii, which culminate in the figure of a bloodthirsty, yet colorful, cheery caricature. It is this very reference to morbid isolationism, augmented with hyper-color joy, which has rocketed Murakami into the mainstream. Millions of dollars later, he is still known to sleep many nights alone in a sleeping bag in a small building attached to his Japanese factory. Read More!pleasexx
Thanks for listening and loving art like I do (except when you take objection to it!) Speaking of art, tomorrow you can expect a full review of the new AnySpaceWhatever exhibition at the Guggenheim. Until then! your faithful Brooklyn Socialite.