Following his international film premiere of Jellyfish Eyes (reviewed here), Takashi Murakami’s exhibition “Arhat” opened over the weekend at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles. The show is his sixth exhibition with the gallery and his first major presentation in the United States since the 2007-2008 traveling show entitled “© Murakami.” While Jellyfish Eyes as a work was created in response to troubled modern times, “Arhat” takes the viewer through distinct eras of a visual story — historical, contemporary and future. Throughout, Murakami blends his love for nihonga, or traditional Japanese-style painting, and manga with new techniques true to his Superflat style, which mixes historical Japanese art with pop culture.
Each era is represented by a different style flowing between three galleries laid out in Blum & Poe. The viewer is first met by large paintings portraying Buddhist monks and demonic creatures in a state of decay, painted in bright colors with slashes of neon. Watching over them in the middle of the room is a glorious gold monument in the shape of a skull engulfed in flames. The second room contains Murakami’s signature sun-flowers paintings in varying colors, this time paired with ominous jellyfish-like skulls, and his first wall mounted piece, made of a silver skulls melting into each other. These jellyfish motifs continue into the third and final room of self portraits of Murakami and his beloved companion, his dog Pom. Here, Murakami seems to be represented in various states of enlightenment. In each piece, Murakami places himself at the top of a mountain made of colorful skulls; a reference to obstacles laid before him with the hope of new life sprouting as a tree above him. Take a look at our exclusive photos from the opening night of “Arhat” and check out the exhibition at Blum & Poe through May 25.
Gary Baseman and Anthony Ausgang