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A Century of Art: The Gerald Fineberg Collection

Time Bokan - Black + Moss Green

Time Bokan - Black + Moss Green
signed and dated 'TAKASHI 06' (on the reverse); stamped (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas mounted on panel
71 x 71 in. (180.3 x 180.3 cm.)
Painted in 2006.
Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2017

Brought to you by

Julian Ehrlich
Julian Ehrlich Associate Vice President, Specialist, Head of Post-War to Present Sale

Lot Essay

Renowned Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami, has left an indelible mark on the Contemporary art world with his groundbreaking Superflat style. By skillfully blending traditional Japanese aesthetics with elements of modern American popular culture, Murakami's Time Bokan - Black + Green Moss emerges as a shining testament to his creative process. The artwork captivates audiences with its striking interplay of contrasting colors, recurring floral motifs, and a narrative that transports viewers into a world of boundless imagination.

Two central figures dominate the composition, with a moss green skeleton occupying two-thirds of the canvas. Murakami's signature Superflat style accentuates the picture plane, creating a profound impact on the viewer. The moss green skeleton gazes directly at viewers, an arresting confrontation of life and death. Upon closer inspection, the grim imagery of the skeleton takes on an intriguing twist. The skeleton's eyes are crafted from a collection of Murakami's iconic color flowers, ingeniously forming the shape of an eye. Within the iris, a mosaic of flowers of various colors and sizes creates a mesmerizing kaleidoscope effect. On the left pupil, the traditional rainbow-colored flower motif is strikingly present, symbolizing a vibrant and harmonious existence. In contrast, the right pupil challenges conventions with an anti-flower motif. An inverted color scheme unfolds, revealing two-toned petals in dark purple and cream shades, surrounding a dark mauve disk at the center. This subtle opposition adds an enigmatic layer to the artwork, inviting viewers to contemplate the intricate balance between life's vitality and the ephemeral nature of death. Murakami's masterful use of the Superflat style compresses the spatial distance between three-dimensional elements, heightening the visual impact of the artwork. As the moss green skeleton gazes back at the viewer, it instills a sense of introspection, prompting contemplation on mortality and the cyclical nature of existence.

Our eyes are then drawn to the upper edge of the composition, where we see a bright orange skeleton. Its vibrant orange hue stands in stark contrast to the dark, black expanse of the background and the moss green skeleton, creating a Pop Art-esque effect that disrupts the visual continuity. As the viewer's gaze shifts to this smaller skeleton, curiosity arises, prompting contemplation about its purpose within the narrative. Unlike the moss green skeleton with its floral eyes, the smaller skeleton's eyes remain blank, devoid of any iconic Murakami flowers. This intentional absence of floral motifs sets it apart, hinting at a different significance and role in the artistic narrative. The skeleton's striking yellow outline imparts a sense of fantasy and even hints at a possible parental connection to the larger skeleton. It seems to be a predecessor, an ancestral figure from which the larger one may have emerged. The brilliance of its bright color creates an illusion of depth, despite being confined to the two-dimensional realm of the picture. The effect is such that it almost appears to pop out of the composition, as if bridging the gap between the two-dimensional sphere of the artwork’s surface the and three-dimensional world in which it exists. This optical illusion draws the viewer deeper into the artwork, blurring the line between the real and the imagined.

Through these deliberate visual choices, Murakami weaves a captivating tale that beckons viewers to ponder the significance of the smaller skeleton. Its contrasting color, lack of floral eyes, and mythical qualities stir the imagination, leaving ample room for interpretation. As we delve into the world of Time Bokan - Black + Green Moss, we find ourselves exploring a captivating narrative of interconnectedness, symbolism, and the coexistence of various realms, both real and fantastical. Murakami's mastery of the pop art style breathes life into the canvas, inviting us to partake in an enigmatic journey of contemplation and wonder.

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