Lauded as the founder of Superflat, Takashi Murakami has built a veritable empire on his instantly-recognizable aesthetic. Brightly-colored, loud and repetitive, his paintings and sculptures have made waves in the art world and their creator has gained notoriety for his sky-high auction prices and flamboyant, showman-like public persona. Murakami recently opened “Arhat Cycle Part II” at the historical Palazzo Reale in Milan, a follow-up to 2013’s “Arhat” at Blum & Poe in LA (see our coverage here).
The title of the show comes from a Sanskrit word used to refer to a “perfected person,” or one who has reached spiritual enlightenment in accordance with Buddhist beliefs. Once you become an Arhat, all is said and done and you’ve arrived at Nirvana. But this doesn’t appear to be the case in Murakami’s conflict-laden show, where viewers are confronted with demons, tangles of human bodies and cacophonies of color. There is something Boschian in his depictions of man and his tumultuous path to paradise.
But things shift to a calmer tone in his extensive self-portrait series, where we see cartoon depictions of the goateed Murakami standing on various cosmic orbs, with a different psychedelic background in each piece. The subject, with his half-closed eyes, seems to be in a state of peace. Could the artist himself be the Arhat he refers to? With Murakami’s flashy persona as a deity-like creator, it may not be a surprise.
Images via Supertouch Art.