Apparently, I’m drawn to old Japanese men named “Murakami.” (The writer Haruki Murakami being the other.) Last night I saw an exhibition of Takashi Murakami’s paintings and sculpture at the Gagosian gallery.
What I like about Murakami is that his ultra-flat, extremely well-crafted works resonate with a feeling I often get living in our capitalist/consumer society: a sense of being overwhelmed by a perverse, explosive over-abundance of products and messages – all of them screaming ENJOY! HAPPY! MORE! MORE! like devil-possessed Teletubbies.
Here (above) we have a Happy Flower made of flowers holding flowers in one hand and child-Happy-Flower in the other. Even the eyes (if I were able to zoom in further) are themselves multi-colored and micro-detailed.
There is so much fractal detail in th painting below that it ultimately exhausts and overwhelms any attempt to take it all in.
As one moves closer, the details are “self similar” to wider patterns of manic bunnies, rainbow flowers, a drippy glowing fluids. This is about 4% of the entire painting.
As we go even closer on one of the tiny individual characters, we find alive with disturbingly rich micro-detail. These little skulls are about a centimeter in diameter.
All the images are “Ultra-Flat.”
By ultra-flat, I mean that all the visual cues that usually provide depth (perspective, overlap, relative size, tone, hue) are eliminated or undermined so that the entire panel asserts itself in an insistent, overwhelming foreground.
Not only is no psychotic bunny in front or behind any other; all the bunnies seem to leap forward to assault the viewer at once. ENJOY! ENJOY! LOOK AT ME!
This same ultra-flatness is in all the details …
The scale of the pieces, echoing Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, enhance the sense of being overpowered and overwhelmed by these “cute,” hyperactive demons of enjoyment.
Ultimately, I came away with
Looking back over his earlier paintings, there is a lot that’s intriguing and worth more study.
… And lastly, Murakami’s signature character Mr. DOB looks weirdly similar to my signature character, Little Boy Bobby.