Takashi Murakami (Tokyo, 1962,) is an highly eclectic artist whose graphic and symbolic expressions brilliantly combine contemporary pop-art ideas, current anime and manga themes to the more established Oriental canons of painting and sculpture.
Graduated in Japanese Painting at the University of Fine Arts & Music of Tokyo he became famous after his autoritratto Mr. DOB (1993) which practically became for a long while his avatar, signature and almost nom de plume. The DOB personage is a clever mix of fashionable Japanese anime and North American pop-art and has evolved along the next ten years becoming more and more gloomy and spectral from the happy DOB’s March of 1998 to the monstrous Gero Tan (2002) passing through the brutal features in The Castle of Tin Tin (1998). More recently Murakami also depicts himself as Inochi, a slim, lean legged, egg-shaped teenager; once again the artist tries to symbolize modern ordinary life in Japan under the influence of the otaku – a subculture which unites isolated adolescents, infatuated and fanatic of anime and manga.
In 1999 it was issued his “Hello, You Are Alive: Tokyo Pop Manifesto”: his creed on the status and upcoming of Japanese modern art and into which he also explains his style and personal artistic beliefs. His technique, quite distinctive, tends to captivate attention by means of weird colourful atmospheres, ample airy zones contrasting with masterfully portrayed details – typical in his works Kaikai and Kiki. His personal bi-dimensional approach is defined “superflat”: not at all coincidentally Superflat is also a trilogy of exhibitions the artist has organised between 2000 and 2005 from Parco Gallery in Tokyo to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles and the Japan Society in New York City. The artist’s advancement follows the canonical struggle between good and evil. Most of his pieces live and transmit the polarity of feelings and emotions, the contrast between gentleness and rudeness, sadness and happiness, abstraction and reality, social commitment and ascetic retirement.
Murakami is also a gifted sculptor. His portfolio contains among many others, Miss Ko2 (1997) a slender female bartender dreaming to become a rockstar and the gigantic Mr. Pointy, a 20 feet complex and articulated piece with numerous arms surmounted by a huge head and horns. A more recent silver statue, inspired to an old manga character Hyakume, portrays Buddha in a contemplative deportment on a lotus leaf.
More recently the artist has widened his horizons devoting his efforts also to manufactured objects, animation projects and collaborations with the world of fashion.
A retrospective exhibition of Murakami is currently taking place in Bilbao at the Guggenheim Museum, organized by Paul Schimmel of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles,. About 100 pieces of art from his 90s experiments to his most acclaimed and successful works are on display.