Away from the classical, neo-classical and into the modern we go, to the art of Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami. I love French Classicism, it is why I came to Paris. To come to Paris and not appreciate classicism would be like to come to France and not eat cheese. Silly! But, aside from the history around every corner Paris is a modern global city. To put an end to a myth, Paris, and Europe is not a dead civilization.
The classrooms at the Sorbonne are filled with international students. Students, from, China, Korea, Japan, Sweden, Italy, Spain, The United States and Venezuela all come to Paris to study. So, Paris is a living magnet that attracts people from all over the world. Come for the history but stay for the moment, I say. Because Paris is a modern living city it is a center stage for contemporary global trends.
Modern Art displays the ideology of the moment. When Takashi Murakmi created his work on display, I am sure he was not thinking, the King of England, Spain and France, will love this, or even, the Emperor of Japan will surely appreciate this fine artistry. No, because we live in the modern day of the nation state. So what we see when we look at Murakami’s work is, today.
Historical art is like a crystal ball into the past, but modern art is like looking into the soul of the moment. So what does Murakami have to say about humanity? Murakami is a humanist. His works show equality and a shared concept of humanity. But, more than humanity, Muakami’s own soul is showcased in his art.
His work is meant to be up-lifting, in Japan his magna work was touted as a failure. But, his art on display is far from the failure he was originally labeled. In his work he has found redemption, isolation, happiness, and insanity. His work as a video artist is a satire piece of youth, love, sex and desire. His visual media is sharp, shinny and complex. It is meticulously constructed with attention to detail.
You may know his work with out knowing him. Kanye West has used his art work for his Graduation Album cover, inspired a story of the heroic bear who seeks education, and this concept has been brought to life by Murakami as several sculptures and an animated video. Murakami, is a wonderful ambassador of the manga-anamie style popular in Japan. By now his critics in Japan have surely shut-it.
Murakami takes on gender ideology, in his works. If there is anything present in all of his work it is happiness, he has represented the moment, lived in it, and created it for us to see. Men proud in their masculinity, women seductive in sensuality, but, some lost in despair in between; stuck contemplating their blues.
His work is meant to represent himself. He is an artist who paints self-portraits. His rendering of himself is as a cartoon. His body old, long hair, goatee glasses. His expression changes depending upon where he is. In portraits alone he is unhappy, a shell of a man, with a few women he is as happy as a fish in water, with different people his happiness turns to madness, still with others he is in a state of rages. This portrayals are of concepts we can all understand.
What do each of his portrayals mean? Happiness is not real unless shared, living a life of isolation is dangerous to happiness. With a the right company humans can be happy. When humans run with wolves they learn to howl so madness enters. Humans are strangers in a strange land and this can lead to rage! His work is sociological. It showcases how a man in society changes emotionally based upon his level of social integration. This a familiar showcase of Emile Durkheim’sLe Suicide thesis.