The work of Takashi Murakami has single-handedly inspired a Pop Art movement in Japan and he is now widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of his generation. Borrowing from the tradition of classical Japanese painting known as Nihonga, and melding it with a highly stylized popular sub-culture of otaku, or "geek" culture, Murakami has managed a visual sensation of images, and has invented a vocabulary of characters that appear often in various forms in his works. It can be said that Murakami's work is not "Pop" rather, to quote the artist, it is "Poku", a word made using the first syllable of Pop and the final syllable of otaku. (Y. Minami, Takashi Murakami: Summon Monsters? open the door? heal? or die?, Tokyo 2001, p.61)
In the Deep DOB, consisting of five individual paintings from a concise series, features his most iconic figure, Mr. DOB, who has been known to morph into various forms-- from cute and innocent to as he appears in these paintings, to looking phantasmagoric as he swirls through fields of color. Mr. DOB, in all of his forms, can be described as the artist's alter-ego, (Ibid., p.61) at once innocent and the next moment, a rampaging demon, as if from a science fiction animation. Jagged-toothed, and pulled into a tangles of eyes, teeth and DOB letters, In the Deep DOB is an outstanding suite from the "Chaos" series produced between 1998 and 1999 that depict Mr. DOB in an overflowing state of metamorphosis where science fiction overtakes the cartoon-like innocence of his earlier self.
Murakami invented Mr. DOB from an abbreviation of the Japanese slang word "dobozite" or "dobojite", which means "why?" In his first incarnation, he bares unmistakable resemblance to Mickey Mouse, the American cartoon figure who was widely exported, including to Japan. But unlike Mickey, Mr. DOB is energetic, manic and prone to frequent transformation. Is this a commentary by the artist on Japanese assimilation of American imagery and products? Or perhaps it is more linked to his own feelings about his ever-changing self.