torstai 29. maaliskuuta 2012

Artist of the Month: Murakami Takashi.

Konnichiwa minna!

OMG you guys smile I was going through my statistics and 'The truth behind animal abuse part 1' is my most read entry ^_^ Not far behind is 'Luis Royo' and the third most read entry is 'Girl look at that body. I workout'. 
^_^ It makes me so happy to see that people are interested in such issues as animal cruelty and working out. After all, there isn't even a handful of people I know, who want to spread awareness of the cruelty animals have to endure in our ultra modern society. It was less than a month ago when I heard about this german sheperd Vucko, whose face was blown off by a firecracker cry Two drunken teenagers in Bosnia duct-taped a firecracker in Vucko's mouth and then left him to his demise. He survived the ordeal. However after he was rescued and examined, the vet revealed that even constructive surgery wouldn't help. Vucko had to be put to sleep. 
If people, and especially young people, are not raised to respect all life, what kind of grown ups can we hope to see in the future? I'm already concerned about the 'I want it all, and I want it when I say that I want it' attitude the young people seem to possess today. In America, people are asked not to buy 'easter bunnies' if they are going to abandon them few weeks later because they are too lazy to take are of the bunnies. This kind of behaviour makes me angry shark In my books, people and animals are equals. And I'll help fellow humans as much as I'll help animals heart 
I'll try to find time to update the next part for the animal cruelty 'series'. Naturally part 2 will be about animal testing. See my vegetarian entry for lifestock and meat eating issues. Animal testing has been a big issue for me ever since I was a teenager. So that entry should be an interesting one, and by interesting I mean heart breaking, make-me-cry-for-days kinda thing. But again, people really need to know about this stuff so that together we can find other alternatives to test our 'junk' in the future.

  Murakami Takashi.

Murakami-sensei...where do I even begin. You know, in college we were asked to keep journals and analyze our favourite artists and artists etc relevant to our subject/course. It's weird, I used approx. 3-5 pages per artist and I still got maybe a C+ for my journal work --_-- Maybe my tutors gave up when they saw how much I had written. I had a sneaky suspicion that they weren't really reading my stuff even though 30% of my practice is actually in writing. I let my paintings speak for themself, but their true meaning is more than skin deep. My pieces true context/meaning lies in my journals. My point is that I analyzed Murakami-sensei's work in my drawing module's journal in 2009, and again in my painting module's journal in 2011. It's safe to say, I still haven't got the faintest idea of how he comes up with these results, even though the meaning of the pieces is something completely different (well I suppose you can't really tell by just looking at his work, what he is really trying to put across).

727-727. 2006.
That first picture, is relatively new. I have been keeping an eye on his practice, and I haven't seen him including himself to his pieces before. Which is actually pretty interesting. Why is he choosing this time to include himself? I haven't seen him doing self-portraits before. And if he has, those must have been like, symbolical.

Murakami (1963) was born and raised in Tokyo. While attending the Tokyo University of Arts Murakami had in mind to become an animator, that was until he majored in japanese style painting called 'Nihongan'. He has BFA, MFA, and PHD in Fine Art. In 1994, Murakami received a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council and participated in the International Studio Program 1 in New York for a year. One might say that during that one year in NY he began to develop the strategies and methods he would later on use in his art practice and business. When he returned to Japan he began to generate art that was 100% Japanese and, to be blunt, would sell in the West. He began to explore the Japanese 'low' culture, aka manga and anime and the subculture of otaku. The inspiration he gets from anime and manga and most importantly from the otaku culture (not forgetting Japanese society as well) are still major factors in his work. His artistic impulse and style is driven from this Japanese 'low' culture, but he is also, shall we say, a business man. He knows what sells. Which is partly why he works in paintings, sculptures as well as what is considered commercial media, like fashion and animation. I can see why he is considered as quite a genious for blurring the line between high and low art, and making low art high art.

Kawaii, Summer Vacation. 2002.

In 2002 Murakami began his collaboration with the fashion brand Louis Vuitton. He contributed artwork which was used in the design of a series of handbags and wallets, and needless to say, it was a huge commercial success. His LV gig brought him widespread fame.
In 2007 Murakami made the cover artwork for Kaney West's 'Graduation' album and directed and animated West's 'Good Morning' music video. 
In May 2008, 'My Lonesome Cowboy' (1998), a sculpture of a masturbating boy, sold for $15.2 million at Sotheby's. 
In September, 2010 Murakami became the third contemporary artist (first Japanese) to exhibit his works at the Palace of Versailles. He filled 15 rooms and the park with his sculptures, paintings, a decorative carpet, and lamps. 
Murakami is the founder and president of Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. The company handles the production and promotion of Murakami’s artwork and projects and manages the careers of select young artists. Murakami has devoted himself to supporting the careers of a younger generation of Japanese artists (including female artists).
And we mustn't forget his other projects, campaigns and workshops.

Deidara (Naruto Shippuuden)
In Naruto Shippuuden episode 123 (hehheh 1,2,3)..Deidara says 'Pop is dead. My art is Superflat!' You can imagine my eyes going like O_O 'Did he just say, superflat?' I had to rewind, and what do you know, he says his art is superflat (same in the manga vol 38 or 39). I had to chuckle, since Kishimoto-sensei is regarding Murakami in his manga =^_^=
Superflat is Murakami's invention. It describes both the aesthetic characteristics of the Japanese artistic tradition and the nature of post-war Japanese culture and society. But in short, describes Murakami’s own style. And if one may trust my resource, the term 'superflat' can only be used by Japanese artists. Däng, and I was beginning to think that my work would someday be superflat-ish. tongue (in case it's still unclear, I'm not Japanese). So I can see why Dei-Dei would want to call his art (exploding sculptures xD) superflat.

In the beginning, I mentioned my habbit for keeping a journal. Actually I keep various journals, one or two per project. Based on all the interviews and articles I have read, it would seem that sensei and I share a mutual habbit of taking things deeper. What one may see on the canvas/paper isn't all the image is about. One may draw opinion from Murakami-sensei's pieces, but in the end every piece he makes has its own meaning. I reckon, my paintings tend to tell a story, whilst Murakami-sensei's pieces carry messages. Sensei's work may seem happy and colourful, but it's actually the complete opposite. Murakami said in one of his interviews that his piece aren't about the happy and positive aspects of the Japanese society and otaku culture. In fact they tell of more mean and desperate things.

The Apocalyptic Champ.
I can see elements that are typical in otaku culture in Murakami-sensei's work. The colours, cuteness, funny yet bizarre characters are very otaku. I like his paintings and his sculptures equally. I think his sculptures are more famous than his paintings (in the West). He has done excellent job in creating art that is completely new, yet at the same time is very Japanese. Even if I didn't know that this work was done by a Japanese artist, I (and pretty much anyone who knows anything about art) could tell that the pieces are Japanese. 
In my case, the problem is that I'm having hard time figuring out his pieces. Yes they are beautiful and really interesting to look at and very contemporary. However I don't really wanna go in to too much detail of what I think each painting may mean. That is because Murakami-sensei has said (interview) that his art records the struggle of the discriminated people in Japan (mostly otakus). Apparently Japanese girls especially use cosplay to escape reality. In cosplay they may enter a fantasyland which is much more interesting than dealing with their daily lives. I have to agree with that. I personally use my imagination to escape my daily life. It would be so much boring if I didn't imagine myself as shinobi from Konoha on daily basis wink I most of often paint my own fantasylands, and I can understand what Murakami is looking to express in his work, but I wouldn't want to escape to sensei's fantasyland. Too psychedelic for me. Supposedly his pieces express his society's situation and are a proof that he was born and raised in such place.

A picture of the Blessed Lion who stares at Death. 2009.
I saw the 'Kawaii' sculpture in Helsinki in 2005. There was an exhibition on Japanese contemperary art featuring several famous Japanese contemp. artist including manga-kas. I had been reading about Japanese culture since 2003 and I was studying Japanese at the time, so the exhibition was a real treat for me grin I went there with my little sister and we saw 'Kawaii' (it was featured in the exhib. poster too). Back then I had no idea who Murakami Takashi was. So it was so cool to rediscover his practice like 4 years later. I actually like his 'discriminated flowers' sculptures better, than his character sculptures. I do like the anime characters, but he has made such beautiful and impressive sculptures out of his 'discriminated flowers'. I just like the way he designs and builds those flower sculptures. 
I reviewed this Lion painting in one of my journals. It tells of an old Japanese mythology in which a lion drives evil out from a buddhist temple. Based on my research, in this painting Murakami-sensei is mixing mythology with 'Poku' (Pop-Otaku) culture. Even Japanese mythology can be modernized. Which I guess is the joke here. He constructed the image from 4 large mixed-medium 'paintings', and it seemes to me, this constructing thing is very popular among contemp. artists. It is a beautiful piece. I wouldn't mind putting that up on my wall, but sensei's larger piece sell for millions so...

I like to think that the most interesting (and successful) artists have their own way of observing the world. Artists should dismiss realism and enter their own world, from where they then observe the real world. Personally, I keep mixing imaginary with realism all the time. Mostly it's real places, imaginary characters. And I think Murakami does a great job expressing himself and the subject. He has come up with an interesting way to carry out messages about his country and society. Even though he sticks with the same style and characters, he keeps reinventing them over and over again. I have been living in my fantasyland, but sensei's work got me thinking what art and an artist is supposed to be. Is art a field and medium which we need to calculate carefully in order to become superstars and succeed like crazy (research and then give people what they want). Do we seriously need to come up with a whole new art movement so that we have something to give to the public, and to ourselves? Is it artist's job to search what people want to see, and then make them think what he/she is giving them is what they really wanted.

Discriminated Flowers at Versailles. 2010.

I'm sorry if this artist review seemed a bit off. I have been doing 9h shifts this week + I'm going to Paris next monday. I'm doing 10h, 9h and 7h shifts this weekend so I barely have time to do anything --_-- I still need to pack, update my lovely metallic pink Ipod and print out maps. So I just threw this review here as quickly as I could (Yeah really quickly, took me 4h without breaks to write this). Sorry, I'm just tired and I was supposed to start packing today and I wanted to finish my first painting for this group exhibition I was selected be part of. It's in June, and yes in Helsinki. I'll give out all the details later. I just feel that I could have done much better job with this entry, but since March is almost over...

Still I hope you found this entry on Murakami Takashi insightful. 

I'll see you next month! Take care!


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