Takashi Murakami (1962 Tokyo - )

Mr. DOB / Kaikai kiki / Interview / Murakami2 / Murakami3 / kidrobots&dolls

:::::::::: Hiropan (Plastik)

Marakami ist ein japanischer Otaku-Künstler. * Otaku is an obsessive fan or collector of anime, the Japanese animations based on manga. For more information on otaku and Takashi Murakami, visit the artist's website.

Bekannt wurde er durch die Ausstellung "SUPER FLAT" 2000? Er ist für Japan und die Welt das, was Keith Haring vor 10 Jahren für die aktuelle Szene war; ein Künstler der die Sprache der Kids in die Hochkunst bringt. Er erzeugt seine Arbeiten wie Haring und Warhol in einer factory. genannt: Kaikai Kiki.

Murakami is a sculptor and painter whose work with manga and media has made him one of Japan's most well-known young artists and one of the country's most interesting cultural exports.

"DOB’s Adventure in Wonderland" is an exhibition of several dozen development sketches, drawings, paintings, and sculptures by Murakami, 37, one of Japan’s hottest young artists and the man who created the Mickey mouse-like character.

"DOB is a self-portrait of the Japanese people," explains Murakami, 37, "He is cute but has no meaning and understands nothing of life, sex, or reality."

The show features walls full of brightly-colored, well-crafted acrylic-on-canvas portraits of DOB, who, on occasion, betrays his mischievous side by flashing a jagged row of sinister-looking teeth. At the exhibition’s center a wonder-struck DOB in fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) stands atop a silver flying-saucer-like stage. The meter-tall doll is ringed by 12 FRP toadstools designed in lime green, pale orange, and fuchsia. While the scene and the colors suggest psychedelia, Murakami insists he has never personally taken a trip into the novel world inhabited by the Lewis Carroll characters from which he borrowed the exhibition title, although he did read the book, and remembers it as "strange." Instead, he says, he finds his inspiration in contemporary Japanese society.

 "DOB is always confused," says Murakami, "and in a daze, like he was drunk or stoned."

 For several year now, Murakami has been developing and refining his work with DOB, along the way coining more than a few new terms to describe pop culture in Japan. The current exhibition is sub-titled "Hiropon Show," in reference to an amphetamine, and is sub-sub-titled "Po-Ku Revolution," a neologism formed from the words "Pop" and "Otaku," those stay-at-home kids obsessed with manga, animation, and computer games. It was only a couple of years ago that Toshio Okada, a creator of the Otaku classic animated film "Evangelion," bestowed on Murakami the title "Otaku King," causing his popularity in Japan to surge, and the artist hasn’t looked back since.

 The exhibition is up at Parco gallery in Shibuya Ward, the country’s youth-culture Mecca, and so it is only appropriate that a variety of consumer products are being offered for purchase – plush dolls, of course, and also mouse pads and t-shirts and so on. The opening party is packed with young people decked out in DOB shirts and hats, and superstar DJ Moog Yamamoto of Buffalo Daughter is spinning 60s and 70s pop music. But also in attendance are the likes of Marianne Boesky, who owns a fashionable New York gallery.

 "I guess I spend about three months a year in New York," says the always casually-dressed and goateed Murakami, "which is the time I use to get my fix of reality." But there is more to New York than reality, as Murakami is finding out – there is also a pretty big contemporary art market. Interest in Murakami’s work is high overseas, and nowhere more so than in the Big Apple, where he and resident video and conceptual artist Mariko Mori are two of Japan’s leading thirtysomething cultural ambassadors.

 Like Mori, whose latest New York gallery show is titled "Made in Japan," Murakami delivers work that exploits Americans’ curiosity in the exotic and quirky qualities of things new and Japanese. Some of the artist’s effect, however, might be lost on foreigners actually living here in Japan. For while satire usually exaggerates to create caricatures, Murakami’s approach can sometimes appear more as copy than commentary.

 Still, the New York and Tokyo art scenes both seem satisfied with Murakami’s superficial treatment of the cute emptiness in contemporary Japanese society. And that might be the most significant statement that "DOB’s Adventures in Wonderland" actually makes. The show is good fun, but that is about all it is.


1962 Born in Tokyo
1986 Graduated Department of Japanese Traditional Painting: Nihon-ga, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Japan
1988 MA, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Japan
1991 Debut solo exhibition "Takashi, Tamiya."
1993 PhD, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Japan
1994 he was invited to New York to participate in the P.S.1 International Studio Program on a fellowship grant from the Rockefeller Foundation Asian Cultural Council, and founded his N.Y. studio during this stay.
He returned to Japan the following year and founded the HIRPON FACTORY(Kaikai Kiki) in Asaka City, Saitama, as a production studio to help create his own works, as well as nurture and handle production for young artists.
1997 Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, France
University at Buffalo Art Gallery, New York State University, Buffalo, USA
Blum & Poe, Santa Monica, USA
1998 he was invited to join the New Genre curriculum of the UCLA art department as guest professor.

1998 Feature Inc. , New York, USA
"Back Beat", at Blum & Poe, Santa Monica, USA
"Back Beat - Super Flat", at Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
"More over, DOB raises his hand", at Sagacho bis, Tokyo

1999 "Super Flat" at Marianne Boesky Gallery, N.Y
"DOB in the Strange Forest", at Parco Gallery, Tokyo/Nagoya "The Meaning of the Nonsense of the Meaning", at The Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture, Bard College, N.Y.

2000 Kai Kai Ki Ki (Super Flat) ISSEY MIYAKE MEN Aoyama,Tokyo

2001 "Kai Kai Ki Ki2" at Emanuel Perrotin,Paris
"wink" at Grand Central Terminal, N.Y.
"mushroom" at Marianne Boesky Gallery, N.Y.
"A Conversation with Takashi Murakami "
Museum of Fine Arts,Boston,Boston,U.S.A.
"summon monsters? open the door? heal? or die?"
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo

About his factory KAIKAI KIKI


Takashi Murakami spricht mit Mako Wasaka, February 24,2000 Murakami Studio, Brooklyn ,NY

( Original unter http://www.jca-online.com/murakami.html )



* Otaku is an obsessive fan or collector of anime, the Japanese animations based on manga. For more information on otaku and Takashi Murakami, visit the artist's website.

Murakami: OK. I begin with my latest discovery about otaku. I think otaku are discriminated against in this society. I read Chusei no Hinin to Yujyo (Pariahs and Harlots in the Middle Ages) by Yoshihiko Amino. According to Amino, the idea of “art” came from the West during the Meiji era (1868–1912). Prior to that, all kinds of art, including dance, music and paintings, were considered entertainment.

Murakami: Yes. Everyone works in order to make a living. So do I. I expected that some people would be interested in my art if I offer an expression such as Poku culture, since it is funny.

Murakami: If my art looks positive and cheerful, I would doubt my art was accepted in the contemporary art scene. My art is not Pop art. It is a record of the struggle of the discriminated people.

Wakasa: For example, how about the life-size sculptures such as Hiropon?

Murakami: Why do Japanese have to love Greek sculptures? What do Buddhist sculptures mean in Buddhism? Iconolatry occurred in order to disseminate foreign cultures among people more easily. Considering a Buddhist sculpture such as Nyorai, it might have been like an animation figure. It was accepted with the vague aesthetics of that time. Although today people think that Nyorai was recognized as a beautiful statue from the beginning, the evaluation of Nyorai just might have changed with centuries. It is highly possible that the statue was merely considered to be a new and pretty one in fashion, or an icon for people to escape from reality. Considering what is an icon of that kind now, I think of a 3-D animation figure. It started with Sporn in the US and Ram in Japan. Japanese can buy very cheap 3-D animation figures, thanks to cheap Chinese labor. This is a product out of labor exploitation. In order to understand and describe why this culture has emerged, I caricatured it and created a life-size sculpture.

Wakasa: Is that the main reason why you decided to them “life-size”?

Murakami: Another reason is that the viewers are surprised when encountering large-scale sculptures. They ask what they are, while they don’t ask much about my smaller sculptures because they look at small sculptures all the time.

Wakasa: The smaller sculptures are sold in editions of 100, right?

Murakami: Yes.

Wakasa: Where are they sold?

Murakami: At otaku shops.

Murakami: The difference about art consumption between Japan and New York is that it is a hobby in Japan, while it is an ideology for creating culture in New York.

Wakasa: How about museum curators in Japan?

Murakami: It’s a hobby for them.

Wakasa: Even museums?

Murakami: Are there any great museums in Japan? There are no great museums in Japan such as MoMA in New York and the Pompidou Center in Paris.

Wakasa: What about Art Tower?

Murakami: No.

Murakami: Only those artists who have an ability in marketing can survive in the art world. Damien Hirst is a good example. Through his art, you can see the process of how an artist can survive in the art world. First of all, distinctively situate his/her position in art history. Second, articulate what the beauty of his/her art is. Next, sexuality. Then, death. Present what he/she finds in death. If an artist aptly rotates this cycle, he/she can survive. Damien Hirst has been repeating the cycle of birth, death, love, sex and beauty.

Wakasa: Doesn’t every artist try to repeat that cycle?

Murakami: Yes. That’s why Picasso has been continuously consumed as well as Warhol. This attests that artists that have a sense of the market make the best of the rotation. The reason why Matthew Barney is not doing well is that the style of his works remains similar. In addition, he couldn’t make an effective presentation in the theme of death. On the other hand, Damien Hirst expressed death so successfully by slicing cows that viewers understood him. He also succeeded in expressing beauty with his dot paintings.

Wakasa: But even though artists know marketing well, they don’t necessarily become successful.

Murakami: Of course, not. It depends on talent of an artist. Wakasa: All your projects were very successful. Murakami: Because I conducted research about the art market. There are examples of what an artist should do at a certain age. If someone wants to survive in any field, he or she should conduct research about the field he or she belongs to. But, most people don’t bother.


I think an artist is a person like him. It’s a minimum resistance by a person who dares resist against his or her nihilistic perception: I cannot change anything. Therefore, people who have given up resistance find security when they look at art made by a person who is still resisting. They can have a fantasy that they might be able to resist, too. This is the role of the artist . That’s why I am making art.

Murakami: I think there should be a strong dark emotion within an artist in order to continuously create powerful works. I am making a catalog of the exhibition entitled “Super Flat” at Parco Gallery. It will be bilingual. The exhibition will travel the world. I curated it, including sculptures and comics. In addition, for promotion, I am conducting a series of dialogues on the magazine, Kokoku Hihyo.

* Otaku is an obsessive fan or collector of anime, the Japanese animations based on manga. For more information on otaku and Takashi Murakami, visit the artist's website.


Translated from the Japanese by Mako Wakasa and Naomi Ginoza
Text © copyright 2001, Journal of Contemporary Art, Inc. and the authors.
Images © copyright, Takashi Murakami. All rights reserved.


Takashi Murakami: The Meaning of the Nonsense of the Meaning

by Dana Amanda/Friis-Hansen Cruz (Author)

Comic Release: Negotiating Identity for a New Generation by Barbara J. Bloemink, et al (Paperback - June 2003)

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