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Takashi Murakami (b. 1962)
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TAKASHI MURAKAMI (B. 1962)

VAN GOGH

Details
TAKASHI MURAKAMI (B. 1962)
VAN GOGH
SIGNED AND DATED 'TAKASHI. 2001' (ON THE REVERSE)
ACRYLIC ON CANVAS MOUNTED ON BOARD
39½ X 39 3/8 IN. (100.3 X 100 CM.)
EXECUTED IN 2001
Provenance
MARIANNE BOESKY GALLERY, NEW YORK.
PRIVATE COLLECTION, BOSTON (ACQUIRED FROM THE ABOVE IN 2001).
PRIVATE COLLECTION, NEW YORK.
GAGOSIAN GALLERY, NEW YORK.
ACQUIRED FROM THE ABOVE BY THE PRESENT OWNER IN 2007.
Exhibited
NEW YORK, MARIANNE BOESKY, TAKASHI MURAKAMI- MUSHROON, 2001.
Special Notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Charles Wesley-Hourde
Charles Wesley-Hourde African Art

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Lot Essay

'IN JAPAN, WE USE THE EXPRESSION "GOD-LIKE" OR "SUPERHUMAN" TO DESCRIBE SOMEONE WHOSE CRAFTSMANSHIP, AFTER LONG YEARS OF TRAINING, HAS ENTERED A REALM THAT SEEMS BEYOND HUMAN CAPABILITY. ONE OF THE VISUAL QUALITIES WE LOOK FOR IN THE WORK OF THE ARTISTS WE EMPLOY AT KAIKAI KIKI IS "MADNESS". GAUGUIN, VAN GOGH, DUCHAMP, WARHOL - THEY ALL POSSESSED AN IMAGINATION THAT EXUDED MADNESS. I MYSELF HAVE TRAINED EVERYDAY IN AN EFFORT TO GET CLOSE TO THIS MADNESS, AND THE TRAINING ITSELF PROBABLY LOOKS LIKE A FORM OF INSANITY'
(T. MURAKAMI QUOTED IN 'ARTIST TAKASHI MURAKAMI ON HOW HE PAINTS', IN THE OBSERVER, 20 SEPTEMBER 2009, REPRODUCED AT WWW.GUARDIAN.CO.UK).



TAKASHI MURAKAMI'S PAINTINGS OFTEN COMPRISE AN ASSAULT OF KAWAII, OR CUTENESS, EVEN WHEN THE MANGA-STYLE CHARACTERS THAT FILL THE WORK ARE MUTATED MUSHROOMS, AS IN THE CASE OF VAN GOGH FROM 2001. THIS PICTURE SHOWS A CLUSTER OF FUNGUS-LIKE FORMS, MOST OF WHICH HAVE EYES, SOME OF THEM EVEN SPORTING DAINTY EYELASHES REMINISCENT OF BETTY BOOP, ENGAGING THE VIEWER IN AN IMMEDIATE DIALOGUE. AS WE STUMBLE THROUGH THIS FOREST, WE APPEAR TO HAVE STUMBLED UPON A CLUTCH OF MAGICAL, ANIMATED, VAGUELY ANTHROPOMORPHIC MUSHROOMS.

THOSE MUSHROOMS HAVE BEEN PRESENTED AGAINST A MONOCHROME BACKGROUND THAT RECALLS TRADITIONAL JAPANESE ART. MURAKAMI HAS PROVIDED A ROUTE FOR JAPANESE CULTURE IN THE CONTEMPORARY ERA IN HIS PICTURES. HERE, THE MUSHROOMS, WHICH HAVE A SMORGASBORD OF ASSOCIATIONS WITH CONCEPTS AS DIVERSE AS GOOD LUCK, ATOMIC WEAPONS, SUSTENANCE, POISONING AND PSYCHEDELIA, HAVE TAKEN ON PERSONALITIES, PRESENTED AS THE NEW INCARNATION OF AN AGE-OLD JAPANESE AESTHETIC.

THE LINK TO THE PSYCHEDELIC IS TELLING, ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THE TITLE, VAN GOGH. THIS PICTURE MAY REFER TO THE ENLIGHTENMENT THAT SOME ARTISTS AND PEOPLE HAVE SOUGHT UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF VARIOUS SUBSTANCES. VAN GOGH'S MENTAL ILLNESS AND HIS FONDNESS FOR ABSINTHE COMBINED TO CREATE THE VIVID VISIONS THAT SO FASCINATE THE WORLD TO THIS DAY; HIS EXAMPLE, HIS APPARENT DIRECT CHANNELLING OF EMOTION INTO HIS PICTURES, WOULD BE THE SPRINGBOARD FOR MUCH OF MODERN ART THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. THIS SPIRIT OF SUBJECTIVE INTERPRETATION FINDS A NEW INCARNATION IN THE HALLUCINATION-LIKE MUSHROOMS OF VAN GOGH.

JAPAN FASCINATED VAN GOGH, AS IS CLEAR FROM HIS SELF-PORTRAIT WITH HIS BANDAGED EAR. THIS HISTORIC IMAGE FEATURED A JAPANESE PRINT FROM HIS OWN COLLECTION IN THE BACKGROUND. THE PALETTE OF VAN GOGH AND THE PIERCING GREEN EYES OF THE MUSHROOMS APPEAR TO ECHO THAT WORK; LIKEWISE, ONE OF THE MUSHROOM-FORMS IN MURAKAMI'S WORK HAS A SECTION BEING TORN AWAY, LIKE VAN GOGH'S EAR, WHICH HE HIMSELF MUTILATED IN ARLES. VAN GOGH HAD HEADED TO THE SOUTH OF FRANCE IN ORDER TO SEEK WHAT HE HIMSELF CONSIDERED TO BE A VERSION OF JAPAN THAT WOULD BE CHEAPER, AND ON HIS DOORSTEP. 'I WISH YOU COULD SPEND SOME TIME HERE, YOU WOULD FEEL IT AFTER A WHILE, ONE'S SIGHT CHANGES,' HE WROTE FROM THE SOUTH OF FRANCE. 'YOU SEE THINGS WITH AN EYE MORE JAPANESE, YOU FEEL COLOUR DIFFERENTLY. THE JAPANESE DRAW QUICKLY, VERY QUICKLY, LIKE A LIGHTNING FLASH, BECAUSE THEIR NERVES ARE FINER, THEIR FEELING SIMPLER.
'I AM CONVINCED THAT I SHALL SET MY INDIVIDUALITY FREE SIMPLY BY STAYING ON HERE' (V. VAN GOGH QUOTED IN, THE COMPLETE LETTERS OF VINCENT VAN GOGH, LONDON, 1958, VOL. II, NO. 500, P. 590).

THAT IS NOT THE CASE IN VAN GOGH, WHICH HAS BEEN PAINSTAKINGLY AND METICULOUSLY CREATED. INDEED, MURAKAMI IN ONE SENSE HAS CREATED THE ANTI-VAN GOGH, BANISHING THE WESTERN OBSESSION WITH THE PAINTER'S BRUSHSTROKE THAT HAD FUELLED SO MUCH OF THE ART OF THE MODERNIST ERA. INSTEAD, HE HAS USED VAN GOGH AS A PRECEDENT, BOTH AS A FELLOW ARTIST AND AS A LAUNCHPAD FOR HIS OWN INVESTIGATION OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WESTERN AND JAPANESE CULTURE IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD, TAKING STRANDS OF THE DUTCHMAN'S ARTISTIC DNA AND REASSEMBLING THEM TO CREATE A NEW CHIMERA THAT IS AT ONCE COMICAL AND DEADLY SERIOUS.

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