Takashi Murakami's latest group of paintings explores his complex ambivalence to the legacy of cosmopolitan painter Kuroda Seiki, who brought Western-style painting to Meiji-period Japan. Kuroda broadly promoted the genre of history painting, as well as the validity of the nude figure as a subject for art. Taking Kuroda's famous triptych, Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment (c.1900), Murakami consciously reclaims it in a new iteration by applying traditional nihonga techniques, as well as recasting the realistically rendered nude figures in contemporary manga style.
In Murakami's paintings such as Shunga: Gibbons and Shunga: Bow Wow, graphic depictions of exaggerated and engorged male and female genitals are set against delirious backgrounds of image and pattern. The Shunga theme continues into life-size sculptures, such as Nurse Ko2, a leggy, busty verticality figure with a sexy uniform, or 3-Meter Girl, an absurdist composition that pushes form and content to extremes. She stands with feet spread wide, her petite body against the whooping pendular breasts whose size and weight threaten to topple her.
Takashi Murakami was born in 1962 in Tokyo. His most recent large-scale exhibition was held at the Chateau de Versailles, France in 2010. He lives and works in Tokyo, New York, and Los Angeles.
Follow Evelyne Politanoff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/evepolitanoff