Today the wife and I decided to brave the torrential conditions and head down the mountain to Los Angeles for the Takashi Murakami exhibition at MOCA in Little Tokyo. On the way after the wife had her hair cut at The Spot in Seal Beach we stopped off at In 'n Out Burger in Long Beach, which is easily the best burger around and if anyone tries to tell you differently they are wrong.
Everyone we spoke to told us not to go due to the conditions but we're made of stern stuff and it wasn't that bad - people were quite clearly taking their paranoia pills. This is what qualifies as a bad day in California, got to love the place.
The banner outside the MOCA. The queue was probably a hundred people deep at 2pm and when we left a few hours later it was easily 250 deep. At $8 a head can you say kerching?
For those of you that don't know Takashi Murakami is a Japanese artist who works in a style that he calls Superflat. He blurs the line between high art and low art by making his work easily accessible to both the collector and Joe Soap who wants to buy one of his pins for their children. Kind of like an even more commercially minded Andy Warhol, if that is even possible. Initially he studied traditional Japanese art but then became disillusioned and turned his attention to otaku culture. Otaku basically means obsessed in Japanese. I have a fair few Japanese friends and they all seem to be deeply obsessive about something, be it collecting music, collecting toys, clothing etc. I have one friend who has more shoes than he has space in his shoe box apartment, so he rents a second apartment to house his collection, and that my friends is otaku in a nutshell.
Murakami's Superflat style developed from Poku, (Pop and otaku) which is a culture that he aims to create and represent. This lead to a massive rejuvenation of the contemporary Japanese art scene in recent years with other artists such as Yoshitomo Nara (the wife's favourite) also benefiting immensely from the exposure. Murakami works mostly in acrylic on board but also paints on canvas and his work is bright, exciting and meticulously planned...soul food for the eyes. Standing in front of his canvasses today I was immediately struck by the attention to detail that he has put into his work and the playfulness of his work. His characters, particularly his signature character Mr. DOB come alive and project emotions that you wouldn't think were possible from 2D paintings. His sculptures really caught the eye as well and, again, some of the smaller details were a sheer joy to behold. Every time you looked at them you came across something new. The best bit was that amongst all of this people were openly talking about the work, their kids were fawning over the work excitedly, everyone was smiling and it all lead to easily the best exhibition experience that I've had in a long, long time.
Here he is leading you through the exhibition, this is part 1 of 8. Just follow the links after you've watched every part as I figured it would be a bit obnoxious to put all eight videos up.
Because you aren't allowed to take pictures I liberated these pictures from The Hundreds, which is a great blog that I check every other day (and they have a decent burgeoning street wear brand if you've got some cash). I hope that Bobby doesn't mind.
Below is my favourite piece from the exhibit. I loved that it had a speech bubble with one of the characters asking another if it was feeling ok.
This was the wife's favourite piece by a mile.
Murakami has also done the video and the artwork for the new Kanye West ego-trip (sorry, album) called Graduation. You know the schtick, big samples and complete and utter twaddle over the top. Some of his lyrics are cringeworthy at best especially on the single that the video accompanied (he's like a fly Malcolm X dontchyaknow...twat) but nobody was listening they were just lapping up the beautiful images from the video.
Murakami is not afraid of mass producing his work and a partnership with Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuiton bore a whole heap of ridiculously expensive bags and other assorted products. They had a store in the middle of the exhibition but I'm not really up for looking at things that I can't afford and neither is the wife so we didn't go into it.
At the opening Kanye did his thing, and to be fair he isn't bad live but I just wish that he would try and not jump on every bandwagon that comes along. Did you hear his Daft Punk sampling tune? Did you listen to the lyrics? Complete gibberish and not a patch on the original or the NERD version for that matter. Anyway enough anti-Kanye sentiments, check the video.
This is the catalogue from the exhibition and it was on sale for $65 at the exhibition but goes for $40.98 on Amazon, two guesses where I got mine from.
So there you go, if you're in the area get over there before February 11th when they take it down. It's one of those things that you simply have to see. Superb stuff, Takashi.
On the way back we stopped off at Amoeba on Sunset and picked up a few things but I'll save that for a later post.