The particular, provocative and colorful artistic dialogue between his ancestral Japan and Pop symbols from Occident which have taken him to become ambassador of modernity is the main theme in the new Takashi Murakami exhibition which opened this week at La Llotgeta.
Organized by the Aula de Cultura de Caja Mediterráneo
(CAM), "Superflat. New Pop Culture" gathers 21 lithographs and several small sized sculptures made by Murakami, considered to be one of the most recognized international Japanese artists.
Murakami's style, called Superflat, is characterized by flat planes of color and graphic images involving a character style derived from anime and manga. Superflat is an artistic style that comments on otaku lifestyle and subculture, as well as consumerism and sexual fetishism.
Like Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami takes low culture and repackages it, and sells it to the highest bidder in the "high-art" market. Unlike Warhol, Murakami also makes his repacked low culture available to all other markets in the form of paintings, sculptures, videos, T-shirts, key chains, mouse pads, plush dolls, cell phone caddies, and $5,000 limited-edition Louis Vuitton handbags. This is comparable to Claes Oldenburg, who sold his own low art, high art pieces in his own store front in the 1960s. What makes Murakami different is his methods of production, and his work is not in one store front but many, ranging from toy stores, candy aisles, comic book stores, and the French design house of Louis Vuitton. Murakami's style is an amalgam of his Western predecessors, Warhol, Oldenberg and Roy Lichtenstein, as well as Japanese predecessors and contemporaries of anime and manga. He has successfully marketed himself to Western culture and to Japan in the form of Kaikai Kiki and GEISAI.
Interviewer Magdalene Perez asked him about straddling the line between art and commercial products, and mixing art with branding and merchandizing. Murakami said, "I dont think of it as straddling. I think of it as changing the line. What Ive been talking about for years is how in Japan, that line is less defined. Both by the culture and by the post-War economic situation. Japanese people accept that art and commerce will be blended; and in fact, they are surprised by the rigid and pretentious Western hierarchy of high art. In the West, it certainly is dangerous to blend the two because people will throw all sorts of stones. But that's okayIm ready with my hard hat."