Takashi Murakami @ Gagosian Gallery

TAKASHI MURAKAMI
3-Meter Girl, 2011
© Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Prototype of work to be exhibited: modeling by BOME, original rendering by Seiji Matsuyama
Murakami’s latest group of paintings explores his complex ambivalence to the legacy of cosmopolitan painter Kuroda Seiki, who brought yōga or Western-style painting to Meiji- period Japan. Kuroda broadly promoted the genre of history painting, as well as the validity of the nude figure as a subject for art.


Taking Kuroda’s famous triptych, Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment (c.1900), Murakami consciously reclaims it in a new iteration by applying traditional nihonga techniques like gold- and silver-leafing, as well as recasting the realistically rendered nude figures in contemporary manga style.

When it was first shown, Kuroda’s work caused great controversy because of its content, however, as Murakami reminds in paintings such as Shunga: Gibbons (2010) and Shunga: Bow Wow (2010), Japan had embraced explicit erotic content in art as early as the twelfth century.

By the Edo period, the long-established genre of shunga sought to express a varied world of contemporary sexual possibilities, often referred to as the creation of a “pornotopia,” an idealised, eroticised and fantastical world parallel to contemporary urban life.

In Murakami’s contemporary shunga, graphic depictions of exaggerated and engorged male and female genitals are set against delirious backgrounds of image and pattern.

This theme continues into sculptures, which feature collaborations with key artists working in Japan’s popular otaku culture including Seiji Matsuyama and BOME, a figure sculptor who previously collaborated on Murakami’s first life-size sculpture, Miss Ko2 (1997), an ebullient Playboy fantasy translated into manga cuteness and proportions.

3-Meter Girl (2011) is an absurdist composition that pushes form and content to new extremes. She stands with feet spread wide, her abundant hair roiling around her like an elaborate rococo frame as if to steady her petite body against the whopping pendular breasts whose size and weight threaten to topple her. Murakami's latest works are now on show at Gagosian Gallery in London.

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