New work from Takashi Murakami in a new exhibition at Gagosian NY opens tonight.
Opening reception: Monday, November 10th, from 6:00 to 8:00pmTo me, religions are a narrative…Natural catastrophes, earthquakes, are things caused by nature. Such chaos isnatural, but we have to make sense of it somehow, and so we had to invent these stories. That is what I wantedto paint.—Takashi MurakamiGagosian New York is pleased to announce“In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow,” a majorexhibition of new paintings andsculptures by Takashi Murakami.A lightning rod of cultural dichotomies (high/low, ancient/modern, oriental/occidental), Murakami believes theartist to be one who perceives and limns the bordersbetween worlds. Combining classical techniques with thelatest technologies, he moves freely within an ever-expanding field of aesthetic issuesand cultural inspirations.Parallel to the dystopian themes that pervade his work, he recollects and revitalizes traditional narratives oftranscendence and enlightenment, often involving outsider-savants. Mining religious and secular subjectsfavored by the so-called Japanese “eccentrics” or non-conformist artists of the Early Modern era commonlyconsidered to be counterparts of the Western Romantic tradition, Murakami situates himself within their legacyof bold and lively individualism in a manner that is entirely his own and of his time.Since the devastating Great Tōhoku Earthquake of 2011, Murakami has explored Japanese art produced inresponse to historic natural disasters. For example, in the aftermath of the Great Asei Edo Earthquake of 1855,painters such as Kano Kazunobu portrayed the five hundredarhats(orrakan), the spiritual protectors of theBuddha’s teachings, as stewards of enlightenment in dire times. While Kazunobu employed diverse Eastern andWestern techniques in his vastscroll paintings, Murakami has created an immersive installation, entered througha 56-ton replica of asanmon(sacred gate), of eclecticarhats; deliquescing clones of his fictional creature Mr.Dob; andkarajishi, the mythic lions that guard Japanese Buddhist temples. Here isa contemporary beliefsystem, constructed in the wake of disaster, that merges earlier faiths, myths, and images into a syncreticspirituality of the artist’s imagination. In totemic sculptures representingdemons, religious sites, and self-portraits; and paintings that conflateclassical Japanese techniques withAbstract Expressionist tropes, science-fiction, manga, and Buddhist and Shinto imagery, Murakami investigates the role of faith amid the inexorabletransience and trauma of existence.