Pop Fantasies – The Colorful World of Takashi Murakami
With his goatee beard, hair tied together in a knot and huge, round glasses, the 50-year-old resembles one of the anime characters that inspired his art and shot him to international fame – or maybe the caricature of a wise Chinese philosopher wearing combat trousers. Takashi Murakami’s creations sell for millions of dollars, like those of the counterparts he is frequently compared to: Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. Fashion mogul François Pinault is said to have paid 1.5 million dollars for “Tongari-kun”, a Buddha-like sculpture, while the manga sculpture “My Lonesome Cowboy” went under the hammer for ten times that amount at Sotheby’s in 2008.
Murakami challenges the world and questions his own art.
Works from the past 15 years are being shown at the “Murakami – Ego” exhibition in Doha, which runs until 24 June 2012. They clearly demonstrate how Murakami evolved his trademark style during the Otaku culture of the 1990s, in a world of “manga-obsessed Japanese youths with their puerile yet sexually charged fantasies”. He refers to them collectively by the stylistic moniker “superflat” – “because the traditional Japanese way of representing things seems flat compared to the deep perspective typical of the west”.
Murakami met Marc Jacobs, the Vuitton designer, in 2003. The encounter inspired him to design the “Panda”, among other creations.
At the entrance to the Al-Riwaq exhibition hall in the grounds of the Museum of Islamic Art hovers an enormous balloon depicting an oversized likeness of Murakami. Inside, the artist has painted a 100-metre wall and erected a circus tent. This serves as a cinema showing his animated films.
Childish, but not for children: “Tan Tan Bo Puking – a.k.a. Gero Tan”, acrylic on canvas, 360 x 720 x 6.7 cm.
Filmmaking has always been a passion: “Childish, but not for children. With film I can exert complete control, but my influence on the real world around me is only about 60 per cent, I’d say. The other 40 per cent is taken up by employees with their own ideas and approaches,” says Murakami. “I’m the coach, the boss, and I like teamwork. I’m like a restaurant chef who has someone else do all the great cooking!”