TAKASHI MURAKAMI, Invoking the Vitality of a Universe Beyond Imagination, 2014, mixed media, 32 5/16 × 78 3/4 × 37 inches (82 × 200 × 94 cm) © 2014 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
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A lightning rod between different cultural valencies (high/low, ancient/modern, oriental/occidental), Takashi Murakami has stated that the artist is someone who understands the borders between worlds and who makes an effort to know them. With his distinctive "Superflat" style and ethos, which employs highly refined classical Japanese painting techniques to depict a super-charged mix of Pop, anime and otaku content within a flattened representational picture-plane, he moves freely within an ever-expanding field of aesthetic issues and cultural inspirations. Parallel to utopian and dystopian themes, he recollects and revitalizes narratives of transcendence and enlightenment, often involving outsider-savants. Mining religious and secular subjects favored by the so-called Japanese "eccentrics" or non-conformist artists of the Early Modern era commonly considered to be counterparts of the Western Romantic tradition, Murakami situates himself within their legacy of bold and lively individualism in a manner that is entirely his own and of his time.
Takashi Murakami was born in 1962 in Tokyo, and received his BFA, MFA and PhD from the Tokyo University of the Arts (formerly the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music). He founded the Hiropon factory in Tokyo in 1996, which later evolved into Kaikai Kiki, an art production and art management corporation. In addition to the production and marketing of Murakami's art and related work, Kaikai Kiki functions as a supportive environment for the fostering of emerging artists. Murakami's major solo exhibitions include “Summon monsters? Open the door? Heal? Or die?,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2001); “Takashi Murakami: Made in Japan,” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2001); “Kaikai Kiki: Takashi Murakami,” Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris (2002); Serpentine Gallery, London (2002); “Takashi Murakami Versailles,” Château de Versailles, France (2010); “Murakami: Ego,” Qatar Museums Authority, Qatar (2012); “Arhat Cycle,” Palazzo Reale, Milan (2014); and “Murakami: The 500 Arhats,” Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2015). A comprehensive survey exhibition “© MURAKAMI” opened at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 2007 and traveled to Brooklyn Museum, New York, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, and Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao during 2008–09. His most recent institutional exhibition “Murakami-Ego,” whose centerpiece was an astonishing 100 meter painting inspired by the Tōhoku earthquake, took place in 2012 at the Al Riwaq Hall in Doha, Qatar.
Murakami is also a curator, a cultural entrepreneur, and a critical observer of contemporary Japanese society. In 2000, he organized a paradigmatic exhibition of Japanese art titled “Superflat,” which traced the origins of contemporary Japanese visual pop culture in historical Japanese art. He has continued this work in subsequent impactful exhibitions such as "Coloriage," Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris, (2002); and “Little Boy: The Art of Japan's Exploding Subcultures,” Japan Society, New York (2005). In 2011, he organized the "New Day: Artists for Japan" international charity auction at Christie’s New York in response to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
Murakami currently lives and works in Tokyo.