Takashi Murakami’s art works are a cornucopia of ideas, trends and art forms.  As I entered the exhibition space at the Mori Art Museum, I was immediately struck by the force of the huge psychedelic paintings on display. But it was only after taking a couple of breaths and slowly walking around that I began to see the intricate details of the densely packed acrylic paintings. Murakami brings together his own take on Buddhist and Zen iconography, Chinese art, “otaku” culture , anime, calligraphy, traditional Japanese art and much more.

How can anyone put so many unlinked ideas and subjects into one work?, I had to ask myself. “It is all up to you,” is Murakami’s message. ”How you view it and how you understand it are up to you.” All in all, I found the show to be both striking and puzzling. “Try to understand it but try also not to,” the curator told me.

A Murakami show of this scale will probably not be seen in Tokyo again, because only a handful of Japanese private collectors buy his work, which is mainly sold abroad. Murakami’s art itself is still in the making, so this exhibit is a manifestation of his current state of mind and style, which the artist says will and must evolve.

The very last artwork on display at the show, a rather small piece in a brownish color, made me chuckle. At first sight, it appears to be a collage of typical izakaya/bar talk. Only by stepping back to view the whole canvas does Murakami’s intention become clear. Murakami has sprung another surprise on us and only those who see the bigger picture get the last laugh. Only by seeing it can you understand what that means.




Text and photos by Mineko Matsuda

Edited by Michiyo Nakamoto & Gwen Robinson