Takashi Murakami Fights Back

The Japanese artist reveals the dark side of his neon-hued work

The hyper-colored motifs in Takashi Murakami’s signature artworks may have made him a fortune, but the reigning king of Japanese contemporary art was in a surprisingly candid mood in Matt Black’s latest film in his series, Reflections. “He was really honest and straightforward,” says Black, who shot Murakami at the Gagosian Gallery in New York as he set up In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow. “There were 100 people around him from both his Tokyo and New York studios finishing everything.”

“Murakami seemed tired of how his work was referenced in terms of monetary value”

Exhibiting darker overtones that have gradually revealed themselves for several years now, Murakami’s new work is a reaction to Japan’s ecological and nuclear disaster. “The way it has been treated by the media—especially in Japan—and the fact that the youth are either not informed or misinformed, he feels people are not reacting anymore and wants to wake them up,” Black says. “He was also tired of how his work was referenced in terms of money or monetary value. That’s why he did his graffiti paintings almost like a scar on top of the paintings.”

Rebecca Guinness is Editor-at-Large at NOWNESS.

In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow is at Gagosian Gallery, New York until January 17


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