One of the most sensational figures of contemporary art, Takashi Murakami, opened a large exhibition in Italy, installed within the spectacular Hall of Caryatids of the Palazzo Reale in Milan. The extensive show displays pictorial experiments the artist was occupied with over the course of the last two years, building up on the techniques and approach showcased at his Ego exhibition in Doha in 2012.
Entitled Il Ciclo di Arhat - The Cycle of Arhat, the Italian display of Murakami opened on July 24 with a pertinent pomp, to remain on view through September 7, 2014.
Presented within an official Italian exhibition space for the first time, Murakami’s show promises an exceptional collection of recent artwork. Dominating the Palazzo Reale throughout the summer, his Superflats will be accompanied by the European premiere of the movie Jellyfish Eyes, the first directorial feature of the famous artist.
The exhibition itself is the comprehensive testimony to the artist's ability to merge historical references with contemporary and sci-fi elements, as his body of work emerges as an eclectic unity of multitude of styles, methods, forms and techniques, evoking his Superflat imagery, while keeping the surprising and exciting aura.
Right off the entrance, the public is welcomed by Oval Buddha Silver light sculpture from 2008, an extraordinarily crafted piece, in which the perfection of every detail surpasses its essentially distressing iconography. The following work one encounters are three large-scale Arhat paintings, each between 5 and 10 meters long, inspired by a big earthquake that struck Japan in 2011. The word Arhat is borrowed from Sanskrit, originally meaning “to reach enlightenment”, which Murakami depicts in a three-pieced narrative, illustrating a story of Buddhist monks who face demise and death. The triptych is rich with representations of demonic creatures and traditionally clad monks, roaming around imagined, psychedelic landscape.
The paintings exude a strong connection with the Hall of Caryatids, which was heavily bombed during the World War II, while the extensive restoration deliberately left some of the most wounded corners of the building undone.
The show continues with a delightfully odd selection of Murakami’s self-portraits, created throughout a perpetual research of the artist’s image in context his constantly changing place in the universe. The final painting series was made especially for the Milan exhibition, showing a constellation of skulls, overlapping in a waterfall-like manner, fusing into each other, while contrasting the kaleidoscopic, ecstatic environment.
Murakami’s first feature film Jellyfish Eyes was presented simultaneously with the grand opening of the exhibition. The movie was in production for the past decade, implementing a vivid combination of live cast and computer generated imagery, portraying a tale of adolescence in today’s Japan, through a life of a boy who keeps comparing his past to his post-Fukushima future.
Curated by Francesco Bonami, the exhibition was supported by the Department of Culture and Palazzo Reale Milano.
All Artwork ©Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Photo credit: Andrea Concina.