For his first retrospective exhibition in Canada, Takashi Murakami brings 55 of his colorful paintings and sculptures to the Vancouver Art Gallery. The pieces collectively tell the story of Murakami's evolution as an artist, spanning over three decades from the 1980s to today. The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg is a glimpse into the world of Japan's most celebrated contemporary artist, one who is the driving force behind the Superflat art movement.
To complement pieces from his early repertoire, Murakami has also created two multi-paneled paintings and a large-scale sculpture for the exhibition. In addition, visitors are greeted by Murakami's art as soon as they come in view of the Vancouver Art Gallery, thanks to a public work placed on the building's facade. The piece, in which a skull is surrounded by octopus tentacles, reaches out and draws the public into Murakami's world.
Inside, visitors can see familiar characters, from Murakami's smiling flowers to the iconic Mr. DOB. Mixing pop art style with traditional and contemporary Japanese culture, the artist has truly carved a unique path for himself, one that has allowed him to collaborate with the likes of Louis Vuitton and Kanye West. “In tracing Takashi Murakami’s development as an artist over the course of three decades, The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg draws attention to some of the major themes and cultural conditions that have shaped his artistic practice,” says Kathleen S. Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Indeed, careful study of Murakami's art shows thoughtful, measured consideration towards sensitive topics. This is exemplified by the inclusion of his more recent paintings depicting groups of Buddhist monks known as Arhats. A departure from the pop aesthetic that garnered him fame, the series is a nod toward traditional Japanese painting and a reflection on the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima.
Presenting this well-rounded vision of Murakami allows visitors to understand the depth and nuances of his career and demonstrates his progression across three decades. “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg highlights Takashi Murakami's dedication to exquisite craftsmanship as well as his boundless imagination moving freely within an ever-expanding field of aesthetic decisions and cultural inspiration, from Buddhist folk traditions to art history to popular culture,” shares Bruce Grenville, senior curator. “This wide-ranging exhibition offers a serious engagement on issues affecting Japan and the larger world today, from media culture to globalization to the threats of nuclear power.”
Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg is currently on view at the Vancouver Art Gallery through May 6, 2018.
Takashi Murakami's new exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery is his first retrospective in Canada, with work from three decades of his career.
Takashi Murakami: Instagram