5 Reasons to love: Takashi Murakami
In 2013, Takashi Murakami is a busy chap. Not content with simply enjoying his status as a living legend, the artist is also majorly preoccupied with ensuring he will have a lasting legacy after his death. Considering he has only just turned 51, there’s really no need for all these morbid thoughts. To help him snap out of it, we’ve selected the top 5 reasons why Mr Murakami is the best and should be appointed ‘King of Art and Ting’, from now on a legally recognised title.
5. He has a brand spanking new exhibition
For those pining after a new Murakami experience after the triumph of his Ego show in 2012, into which he incorporated a huge inflatable sculpture of himself (well, wouldn’t you?), you’ll be pleased to know he has more treats for you this year. His new show Arhat is on at LA’s Blum & Poe gallery until May 25th, and includes work featuring Murakami’s usual cast of characters, along with newer additions such as tortured-looking monks and demon-like beasts. A vast canvas which takes up three walls within the gallery space shows Murakami isn’t afraid to let his work shout very loudly in your face, with a megaphone.
4. He’s getting his Spielberg on
Murakami is one of those geniuses/showoffs with a finger in every pie. Having previously directed short animations, he has now turned his attention to the creation of a feature-length film. Entitled Jellyfish Eyes, the name is a reference to the eyes of the cute and creepy creations which spring forth from Murakami’s fevered imagination. The film, released this month, is part live-action, part CGI, and tells the story of a young boy who befriends a little creature with superpowers in the events following his father’s death. Ten years in the making, and with actors chosen based on how much their face looks like a manga character’s, I hereby bestow upon the film an automatic 5 star rating. I look forward to seeing it.
3. He’s a bit like Andy Warhol, but less terrifying
When Murakami’s around, comparisons to the original celebrity artist, Mr Warhol, abound. During 1996 Murakami-san set up his own Factory-esque organisation, which in turn became Kaikai Kiki Co. Not only does the company employ teams of assistants who oversee the production of Murakami’s work, but through it Murakami manages the careers of other artists of the Superflat movement synonymous with Murakami, such as Mr., and Aya Takano. Also taken under Murakami’s psychedelic wing are any up-and-coming artists who wish to appear in his bi-annual art show, GEISAI (for a small fee.)
2. He wears round glasses
It takes a certain type to carry off circular glasses, and Murakami achieves this feat with effortless panache, totally working that befuddled librarian look and making it something to aspire to. With major pioneers of circular frames having included peace-mongers John Lennon and Mahatma Gandhi, the trend was given a ‘magical’ update in 2001 when the first instalment of the Harry Potter films hit cinemas and made geek chic and living in broom cupboards a thing. Round specs highlight Murakami’s already-round face and stout body until you realise he is literally made of circles, which can only be a good thing.
1. He’s a champion hobnobber
As mentioned above, Murakami has a lot of fingers in a lot of pies. Some of those pies include Kanye West, Britney Spears and Louis Vuitton handbags. The manner in which Murakami blends high art and traditional themes with popular culture and commerce marks him out as a savvy business mogul, as well as an art superstar. Having created the cover artwork for walking god complex Kanye West’s album Graduation, as well as the video for his single Good Morning, he went on to collaborate with Pharrell Williams and Jacob the Jeweler in 2009 on a jewel-encrusted sculpture which sold for $2 million. One of his biggest successes to date has been Marc Jacobs’ commission of Murakami to put his own spin on the iconic LV monogram print. This was a stroke of genius considering that 94 per cent of Tokyo women in their twenties own at least one bag from Louis Vuitton- which, my friends, is in itself an achievement.