May 3, 2007  |  Uncategorized


This week saw the opening of one of NYC’s biggest art “happenings” of the year (“opening” is simply too inadequate a term) when TAKASHI MURAKAMI‘s new impressively titled solo show “Tranquility of The Heart, Torment of The Flesh – Open Wide The Eye of The Heart, and Nothing is Invisible” opened at the GAGOSIAN gallery’s swank Madison Avenue branch. Few stars in the art world’s sky burn as brightly as the Japanese wunderkind’s, and this new show of pop eye candy will surely thrill fans and collectors worldwide. Critics might find the master’s repetitive motifs simplistic & redundant but for a Japanese artist working in the Pop realm, the precedent of colorful repetition is a well-established tradition, both culturally and institutionally. Interestingly, in this show, Murakami has departed from his recent motifs of his “DOB” and “MR POINTY” characters and has created a group of monumental portraits of Daruma, the grand patriarch of Zen art. Daruma was an Indian sage who lived during the fifth or sixth century A.D., the founder of Zen Buddhism. Legend has it that he attained enlightenment after sitting in meditation before the wall of the Shaolin monastery for nine years, without blinking his eyes. During this process, his arms and legs atrophied, withered and fell off. In today’s Japan, Daruma’s continuing popularity as the embodiment of resilience and determination has given rise to an entire industry of good luck charms in the form of armless, legless and eyeless dolls, available in endless variations. Murakami’s interpretations of the icon are similarly varied, fusing tradition with a heterogeneous range of artistic and cultural inspirations.

With pricetags that would scare your mother, this show is strictly off-limits to mere mortals but don’t let that be a deterrent. After all, in Murakami’s “Superflat” worldview all is one and one is all and the lines between high and low are practically non-existent. Translation: buying a Murakami toy or other piece of merchandise or printing a high quality copy of a Murakami image should be as good as owning an original piece. Ladies and gentleman, you may start your Epson printers…

“Tell me,” the emperor of China asked Daruma, “What is the first principle of Buddhism?”

“Vast emptiness, nothing holy!” Daruma replied.

“Who are you? the emperor demanded, thoroughly perplexed.

“I don’t know!” Daruma announced, departing as suddenly as he had arrived…

“That I May Time Transcend, That a Universe My Heart May Unfold,” Acrylic and silver gold leaf on canvas mounted on board 3 panels: 95 1/2″ x 111″, 2007.

ICONS OF INSPIRATION: Examples of traditional Japanese Daruma figures kept in the home for luck and protection

Flower Ball (3-D), Kindergarten, acrylic and silver gold leaf on canvas mounted on board,39-1/2″ diameter, 2007.






Above: “Flowers of Joy,” acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas & board, 15 1/2″ diameter each, 2007.

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