This is one we wish we could head to Hong Kong for, Takashi Murakami's first show in Hong Kong at Gagosian Gallery. This exhibition explores one of the central dichotomies of his art—between joy and terror, his optimistic magnanimity as an artist and his pessimistic perspective on postwar Japan. Here, this dichotomy is symbolized by the stark contrast of bright smiling flowers and disturbing, menacing representations of skulls. Whether depicted as single iconic "portraits" or in complex clusters of virtuoso composition and paintwork that combine painstaking traditional artisanal techniques with the pop and fizz of manga, the flower and the skull stand as eternal motifs in the history of art and popular culture. Both oppositional and parallel, they are reminders of the fragile vibrancy of life and the inexorable passing of time.
It opens/opened tonight, November 29, in Hong Kong.
From Murakami himself:
What is Art?
For those of us born in Asia, it remains an ever important question. The reason is that what we today define as Art represents the path followed by Western art history and yet here in the East, we have our own history. To survive as artists, we must learn to resolve the collision of these two cultures.
My own personal position is drawn from how well I can arrange the unique flowers of Asia, moreover the ever strange blossoms that have bloomed in the madness of the defeated culture of postwar Japan, into work that will live within the confines of Western art history.
Flowers & Skulls
November 29, 2012 - February 9, 2013
Hong Kong, China