Ξ January 11th, 2008 | → 2 Comments | ∇ Beyond Northeast, The Arts |
Last night I was fortunate enough to be invited to a party held at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA for a private viewing of the Takashi Murakami exhibition. For those who are as far down on the artistic hipness totem pole as me, the Tokyo born artist has made a name for himself over the past two decades fusing Japanese popular culture and high art into a genre he calls “Superflat.” While trying to decipher what exactly is the definition of “Superflat” art, I gave up after the third mention of “post-modern.” Seeing as no one seems to be able to define what postmodernism encompasses, I find it a difficult term to use in describing an artistic style. The best summary I can give of his work is that it looks like the offspring of Roy Lichtenstein and Walt Disney, if that child was forced to watch Japanese pornography by his nanny, Tim Burton. Murakami describes his work as a “critique of westernization” and an expose of the “Japanese male sex complex.” I would agree with the latter and re-word the former to read: “celebration.” True, much of his work deals with the grotesque, but there still isn’t much of a sense of regret or perversion in the works. However, the effect on me was one of “peeking behind the curtain,” which may be the artist’s point. Certainly the most memorable works in the exhibit were three sculptures: Miss Ko2, My Lonesome Cowboy (MLC), and Hiropon. All three appear to be life sized avatars for manga porn stars. Miss Ko2, the tamest of the three, presents an impossibly long-legged waitress whose breasts are barely contained by her diner uniform. Hiropon and MLC, whose title alludes to the Andy Warhol film, are much more explicit. Hiropon presents a woman with impossibly large breasts and a tiny string bikini squirting milk in a ring around her body from both of her nipples while MLC depicts a man (who looks an awful lot like Guile from Streetfighter) ejaculating semen into a widening spiral above his head. Obviously this is much more than a celebration of the human body and probably isn’t suitable for the kids. (I can’t imagine trying to bring a school group through this exhibit.) Not all of the works so obviously reflect a society where used underpants are sold in vending machines. Much of Murakami’s work uses colorful, but sometimes terrifying, depictions of mushrooms. MOCA suggests that they are a reflection of Murakami’s ascent from the underground, yet it’s hard to view these without Hiroshima and Nagasaki coming to mind. One of the walls, covered with skulls transposed onto large disfigured mushrooms, makes this connection impossible to ignore. If nothing else, the Murakami exhibit is something different and when you go out for sushi in Little Tokyo afterward, you won’t be at a loss for things to talk about. …And no, this entire article is not just an attempt to pop up on more internet porn searches.
The Murakami exhibition runs through February 11th and is within walking distance of the Gold Line stop at Union Station.