Japanese maverick artist Takashi Murakami regularly expresses vast dissatisfaction at the lack of clout post-war Japanese art carries in the wider cultural world. But you certainly couldnât accuse him of being an armchair critic. On the contrary Murakami has single-handedly devoted his relatively short career to rejuvenating Japanâs contemporary art scene and as a mark of his success the Geffen Contemporary at LAâs MOCA is currently hosting a retrospective of his work.
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Japanâs answer to Jeff Koons, Murakami uses popular mass media iconography as a starting point for his work. Otaku culture (references include anime and manga) is the primary pool from which the artistâs influence comes and more specifically âpokuâ or âpop-Otakuâ.
Working across a wide range of media including painting, sculpture, installation and film, Murakamiâs portfolio makes for a monumental ensemble, covering over 35,000 square feet of exhibition space.
The retrospective spans the length and breadth of the artistâs short but prolific career. From the sculptural figures of the late 1990s - Miss Ko2, Hiropon and The Lonesome Cowboy - to the popular commercial collectibles, displayed on shelves like shop archives, as well as two vast more recent works: 'Reverse Double Helix', an installation consisting of five Buddhist deities; and the 2007 work, 'Oval Buddha', an 18 and a half foot platinum-leafed sculpture, atop a lotus-leaf pedestal, balanced on an elephant.
Perhaps the most exciting revelation, however, springs from Murakamiâs celebrated collaboration with Louis Vuitton in the form of an exclusive temporary store opening within the exhibition. Spotted by Creative Director of Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, in 2002, Murakami collaborated on the labelâs Spring Summer â03 collection, injecting a splash of colour (33 in total) to the historic Monogram. In celebration of the exhibition, the artist has designed an exclusive range of limited edition products, including a bold reinterpretation of the Neverful bag with a cartoon LV Hands print on the front matched by a coordinating colour lining.