Takashi Murakami is widely reknowed as one of the most internationally acclaimed contemporary artists working today as well as one of the most influential often cited as the ‘Warhol of Japan’.
Extending his reach beyond the world of art to branding, Murakami’s collaborative projects have brought his surrealist vision into fashion and music for the likes of Kanye West, Pharrell, Louis Vuitton and Vans to name a few. Notably Kanye worked with Murakami to oversee the art direction of ‘Graduation‘ soon after he visited Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki studio in Roppongi Hills, producing a series of cover artwork centering around the ‘Dropout Bear’ mascot as well as a three minute animated video for ‘Good Morning’.
An event like the opening of his long-awaited solo exhibition in Japan, rightly gathers the eyes and interest of the world audience. ‘The 500 Arhats’ is Takashi Murakami’s magnum opus, an epic 100 metre long painting and one of the largest paintings to ever be produced in world art history. The solo exhibition will include other works alongside The 500 Arhats which enlisted over 200 students from Japanese art colleges to assist in completion and was first exhibited in 2012 in Doha.
Takashi Murakami’s work is known to address themes of religion and art, human mortality and limitations, and in addition to The 500 Arhats, the exhibition includes materials used in the production of his work – drawings, research material, instructions for sketches, as well as an insight into Murakami’s artwork production system.
The work is split into four sections, each bearing the names of the legendary Chinese guardians of the four celestial directions (Blue Dragon – east, White Tiger – west, Vermilion Bird – south, and Black Tortoise – north). The 500 Arhats are thought of as enlightened disciples of Buddha who spread his teachings and give ordinary people salvation from worldly desires. Faith in the arhats was conveyed to Japan during the Heian period (8th-12th century) and flourished throughout the country from the Edo period (17th-19th century) on in the forms of paintings and sculptures.
The exhibition takes place at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo.
Check out the video of Pharrells visit to Takashi Murakami’s studio to see The 500 Arhats.