Takashi Murakami is Back and Golden

From monumental sculptures to floral fantasies, step into the Japanese art star’s hyper-saturated universe at Tai Kwun Contemporary...

Takashi Murakami has become a cultural phenomenon in the last decade with his massive showings all across the world. Most recently, Murakami brought his latest works to Tai Kwun Contemporary in Hong Kong for a major survey of the multifaceted universe he has carved out with his continuous stream of shows.

Fully taking over all three stories and conceivable space within the tai kwun’s JC contemporary art gallery, “MURAKAMI vs MURAKAMI” transports audiences with a unique immersive experience, whilst exploring the eclectic universe of the Japanese super-star artist. This comprehensive survey features over 60 paintings and sculptures in a stunning setting that showcases the intriguing paradoxes embodied in the diverse work and life of Takashi Murakami. His signature flower icons and superflat signature style is obsessively and repetitively combined and represented, decorating both walls and canvases. Meanwhile, figures of Tan Tan Bo, the artist’s alter-ego based on a manga character by Japanese manga author Mizuki Shigeru, appear as phantoms writhing while spewing out bodily fluids in glorious psychedelic colour.


The main hall of the exhibition perfectly demonstrates the artist’s mélange of high and low, its highlight a large gold-leaf clad 4.5-metre-tall sculpture ‘the birth cry of a universe’, shown here for the first time in its final version after 14 years of preparation. it presents a majesty flustered and disturbed, collapsing under its own weight, resting on a floor decorated in skulls, which force visitors to traverse a scene of devastation— as visceral memento mori, an object kept as a reminder of the inevitability of death.

The room featured above, as a further insight into the exhibit itself, is covered by the artist's signature flower icons, generating an overwhelmingly affective and psychedelic power. Takashi Murakami himself has elaborated the concept of “Superflat”, which refers not only to the perspectival flatness on the picture plane in Japanese art, but also ushers in the rejection of hierarchical divisions between high and low art, and of society itself.

Even the pop-up store, where visitors can stock up on special edition badges, posters and plush flower cushions, stands out with a hyper-stimulated skull-pattern carpet, mirrored black and silver wallpaper and neon wall art, in true Murakami fashion. Further to this, Tai Kwun Contemporary is also hosting a wide range of public programming and educational events including videos by Takashi Murakami, which will be screened regularly on the laundry steps, as well as a public discussion with Takashi Murakami, Gunnar B Kvaran (director, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo and co-curator of Imagine Brazil), and Tobias Berger, the head of arts at Tai Kwun.

最后的想法... (final thoughts)

Ultimately, under the cute surfaces lurk darker visions of trauma and pain, forging strange and singular scenes of a dark wonder. Based on the continuous explosive aesthetic of Murakami's works, one could assume that this in part reflects the artist’s anxiety about nuclear power, especially in the wake of the Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown - but also echoes the broader postwar trauma in Japan that resulted from the detonation of two atomic bombs and the subsequent flood of American culture. Walking into the exhibition space deploys the viewer into a cosmos of creativity, chaos and conjury -  set with certainty to leave an eternal impression and inquisitive mindset towards the hidden meanings behind the cute and beautiful.


MURAKAMI vs MURAKAMI is on display from 1 June to 1 September 2019, at the Tai Kwun Contemporary in Hong Kong. You can purchase tickets at the gallery or online at ticketflap. You can also check the gallery site for guided tours, educational workshops, public talks and film screenings.

Visit the gallery here for all information regarding tickets and the exhibit


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©2019 by Lait Mylk