Murakami’s change of direction
After his Versailles retrospective, the Japanese artist will return to painting
By Claudia Barbieri. News, Issue 216, September 2010
Published online: 14 September 2010
PARIS. Japanese artist Takashi Murakami opens his first major retrospective in France today at Versailles in Paris, and has revealed that after the show, he is following artists such as Damien Hirst and turning his attention to painting.
Like Jeff Koons, who exhibited at Versailles in 2008-09, Murakami will display sculpture and painting in 15 rooms in the palace’s Hall of Mirrors and the former apartments of the King and Queen (14 September-12 December). And like Koons before him, Murakami's installation at the historic palace has raised an outcry from traditionalists, who have launched protests and petitions to stop the show from going up.
The work now on display at Versailles has been painstakingly produced by a team of assistants employed by Murakami’s studio and company, Kaikai Kiki, which he founded in 2001. But despite building a career on producing manga-inspired sculptures and comic-style prints in the factories of his company, the artist says he now plans to return to his first love: painting.
“I am now nearly 50 years old, I have created my company, and created my world,” Murakami told us while preparing for his retrospective. “The works you see behind you are the production of a team of assistants. Now that the situation permits, it is the moment to do my own work by my own hand.”
Although his work has been heavily influenced by manga, anime and videogames, Murakami studied painting for 11 years at the National University of Fine Arts and Music in Tokyo. In 1996 he set up the Hiropon Factory, a nod to Andy Warhol, and precursor of Kaikai Kiki.
For years Murakami stopped painting in order to oversee the production of his work, said Emmanuel Perrotin, his Paris dealer. “Murakami now works from computer graphics using teams of assistants…working from computer files, there is no element of subjectivity.”
Recently, Murakami has physically intervened in his paintings, such as the 2006 series “Acupuncture” or "Pressure Point", where the artist covered his body in paint and rolled on canvases. “He took enormous pleasure in this way of working,” said Perrotin.
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