Few artists have so impressively penetrated the worlds of fashion and art with such international prestige as contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. The art world may know him as the “Japanese Andy Warhol” and for his superflat, technicolor psychedelic Japanese anime collage motif paintings. The fashion world? As the anime-cherry-pop artist who collaborated with Louis Vuitton on their iconic monogram bag. With his latest exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery entitled “In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tale of a Rainbow” Murakami shows us an unexpectedly dark yet enticingly playful side of his artist psyche.
And as stark as the transformation of Yve’s Saint Laurent to the rocker chic update by Hedi Slimane, Murakami reinvented himself into something dark, strange, and utterly disturbing.
The cause of such a dramatic transformation? Murakami has cited his living through the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, killing almost 16,000 people, as the moment that galvanized his darker side. He has also described his disturbance at the religious sentiment that spread throughout Japan in reaction to the natural disaster as inspiration for the show, having had a complex relationship towards his Buddhist upbringing. The earthquake ignited his questioning of the relationship between religion and art.
“When people are confronted by the power of nature, they need a narrative to give them hope, they need to know why they survived.”–Takashi Murakami, The Wall Street Journal
Like an acid trip turned bad, Murakami’s once joyful drawings of tangerine treed and marmalade skied worlds splintered into multi-colored kaleidoscope images have been replaced by a disturbing underworld of strange, demented beings who become more and more nightmarish the longer you seem to look…
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