There’s nothing quite like a good art exhibit, especially when it brings some one like Takashi Murakami to the city. For those of you who are unaware of who this man is exactly, maybe you’d recognize his work on Kanye West’s Graduation album cover, or his long-lasting collaborations with Louis Vuitton. He’s one of the few artists that have been able to blur the lines between high art and commercialism.
His style is bold and colorful, and uses a wide range of media. There is a heavy influence of manga (Japanese graphic novels) in the superflat style, a term he coined which describes the specific style of Japanese anime and manga. In that comic style, you can find character’s, many times Buddhist monks, represented throughout his work. It was fun to watch stories evolve from painting to painting. Though, my favorite was the wall of smiling flowers. It makes you feel so happy.
The sheer detail of each piece is mind boggling, and the process is borderline nauseating. Part of the exhibit breaks down the steps of his process for one (of maybe a hundred) character in one of his works. Starting with sketches on trace paper, to computer renderings, to more sketches, colors and finite details. It would take a lifetime for a single person to complete one of his wall-sized works. Thankfully he employs a team of people that make the execution just a little bit quicker.
Check out the detail on those paintings behind this massive alien-octopus sculpture. Layers upon layers upon layers are seen in even his most minimal works.
He titled his exhibit The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg after a Japanese folklore that expresses the idea that an octopus will eat its own leg for self-protection. The exhibit is an incredible retrospective of his work showcasing his evolving style from Nihonga (traditional Japanese painting) to his current, and iconic pop-art meets manga instillations. His exhibit began at the Museum of Contemporary Art earlier this month and will be there until the end of September. It’s the perfect way to get out of the heat and see some pretty cool art. (Pro-tip – if you live in Illinois, the MCA is free on Tuesdays!)