“In Western culture, the most important thing is the concept. My position is more fragile. I don’t have a Western history; my position isn’t standing, it’s floating.” -Takashi Murakami
Don’t ever take what Takashi Murakami says at face value. The most attention-grabbing artist to come out of Japan in the past decade is also its most complex, slippery, and multidimensional creative mind, incessantly crossing boundaries with incredible vigor and ease. While he is widely known for creating affordable, mass-produced merchandise that quarries the ubiquitous “cute” in Japanese popular culture, Murakami is also a classically trained painter, an art historian, a cultural provocateur, and a playfully hucksterish entrepreneur. Since 2000, he has also been the prophet of “Superflat,” a concept that refers to the level plane where memory, history, art history, high culture, and popular culture operate with equal weight and no distinctions. His exhibition of the same name, which traveled to the Walker in 2001, presented artworks, design products, and Japanese comics and animation as an organic whole.
Since then, Murakami expanded the realm of Superflat through a series of two-dimensional works inhabited by his trademark images–psychedelic-hued mushrooms, strobe-light eyeballs and smiley flowers, and most recently, candy-colored monograms for the famous French fashion house Louis Vuitton. The media’s enthusiasm and his fans’ obsession with his polymorphous work suggest how this self-professed “floating” Japanese artist with allegedly no historical consciousness may be, in fact, an artist most astutely informed and positioned for our global age. Also featured in the Walker exhibitions Let’s Entertain (2000) and Painting at the Edge of the World (2001), Murakami returns to the Twin Cities via the fourth installment of the ongoing billboard project. His mission: to fill a little section of the sky with blobby “jellyfish eyes” to please your eyes.