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Takashi Murakami: Entering another world -
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Takashi Murakami: Entering another world

The city is a blanket of white this week (where DID that snow come from?). In times like these, we all need a little extra colour in our lives. Lucky for us in Vancouver we have the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibition of Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats It’s Own Leg. And wow did we get a little extra colour.


It’s the first Canadian retrospective of the Japanese artist’s work and it spans his entire career– from his student days studying classic Japanese painting (he has a PhD in Nihonga) until… well does “ongoing” count? He admits that he has been so busy and his studio has tried to keep pace with the flow of new ideas (resulting in yet more work) that a couple pieces on show are actually not quite complete (see the reasoning behind: The Octopus Eats its Own Leg).


The titular octopus: This work was created (and completed) especially for the Vancouver exhibition– a feast of colour, line, and hidden details all silkscreened onto the panel. Image from the Vancouver Art Gallery Website.


The exhibition follows his trajectory from classically trained artist to pop culture fixation (collaborations with Louis Vuitton and Kanye West looks good on a resume…). Murakami’s work makes colour and pattern on a large scale exciting and energizing instead of overwhelming… We’re convinced that even those amongst us who are most comfortable with neutrals than bright pops of blue and iridescence will have a new found appreciation for high impact art. There is a lot to see and be inspired by, perhaps more than one visit is necessary… but we grabbed a few examples to just give you a taste of what is on display.


This large 2-panel piece is part of a larger series of over 30 works– and one of the pieces not 100% complete.  Featuring many versions of Mr. DOB (a character created by Murakami) you can easily look up close at this for an hour and always find something new to look at.  Photo taken by Designers Collective at the VAG.


Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, these mushrooms bring Murakami’s love of colour, cartoons, and imagination into 3 dimensions.


Often when it comes to art, it is difficult to explain the experience of seeing works in person– and Murakami is no different! The colour, scale, and general visual impact of these works are incredible. We were also impressed with the workmanship behind these pieces… Most of the recent works are silkscreened and require up to 1000 unique screens and 40 studio assistants from Murakami’s Kaikai KiKi studio. He is often compared to Andy Warhol is his factory-like approach to his work. Murakami sketches everything. All the designs originate from his own hand, are digitized and refined in a computer before being translated to a silkscreen. He oversees every change and colour choice, trusting his assistants to execute the work perfectly. The result? Crisp edges and fantastic compositions.



Here Mr. DOB gets abstracted. Simple colour palette, more geometric forms, and a dose of quirky fun. Image from the Vancouver Art Gallery website.


A new take on stained glass? Murakami’s flowers adorn the windows of the gallery lobby. Not a bad way to perk up in this winter weather.


Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats its Own Leg  is on until May 3, 2018 at the Vancouver Art Gallery. We love using art as a source on inspiration– you never know what will motivate you to start that DIY, change up your design, or begin that long-overdue project. Take some “me time” (maybe turn it into Murakami time?) and see what will inspire you!


See you at the gallery…

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