In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow

New York’s 24th Street Gagosian Gallery presents Takashi Murakami’s In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow. We know and love Murakami for not only his fine art but also his extension into commercialised artistry during his collaboration with Louis Vuitton under Marc Jacobs back in 2002. In glorious longevity, the design partnership brought Murakami to the forefront of the fashion scene, but there’s no better testament to his genius than his fine art itself.

“To me, religions are a narrative … Natural catastrophes, earthquakes, are things caused by nature. Such chaos is natural, but we have to make sense of it somehow, and so we had to invent these stories. That is what I wanted to paint,” Takashi Murakami

There’s quite an art nouveau style to the exhibited works, in addition to, of course, Murakami’s characteristic combination of Western motifs and styles with those of the Orient. Take his piece featuring a gold leaf-limned nouveau wave passing beneath a post-modern, attention-craving bouquet of candy-lurid coloring (Fig. 1). Or his The Birth Cry of a Universe, a chromed sculpture reminiscent of a Venus flytrap, twisted, root-like, upward, unabashedly golden, and calling to mind the curvaceous, twisted, plant-like architectural styles of art nouveau (Fig. 2).

Murakami also, as he’s apt to do, employs cartoonism and caricature, embarking on an otherworldly traipse into the dialectical realms of religion and its bellicose interplay with indulgence and heresy.

He contentiously exploits the colors and figures of childhood for the macabre and perverse embellished livelihoods of the modern adult. In Isle of the Dead, Murakami paints figures in connotatively religious cloaks and togas, casting forth blaspheming postures amidst a grotesque, chaotic diegetic reality (Fig. 4).

The anodyne title of the show reveals little of its visual ferocity. We can count on Murakami’s preceding artistic reputation, however, to make up for that.


Fig. 1MURAK 2014.0007 Hokkyō Takashi - Kansei web Fig. 2MURAK 2014.0031 A The Birth Cry of a Universe webFig. 3MURAK 2014.0021 Tan Tan Bo - In Communication web Fig. 4MURAK 2014.0018 Isle of the Dead web

by Emily Rae Pellerin

Images courtesy of the Gagosian Gallery, New York. © 2014 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Image photography by Robert McKeever

Visit the exhibit at Gagosian Gallery, 555 West 24th Street which is on show until January 17

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