New Takashi Murakami Art Exhibit at Broad Museum in Los Angeles – The Hollywood Reporter

Looks like their brains melted. There are so many characters who like it in Takashi Murakami’s new exhibition, Takashi Murakami: Walking on the Tail of a Rainbow, at the Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles. The faces betray various stages of alarm, brokenness, emptiness, despair, anxiety, bewilderment and even a tired and resigned serenity.

Take, for example, his new 2022 painting, Unknown people. The work, says the artist – during an interview in a garden outside the museum – “looks like a space family from the 70s or maybe 60s” and has a vibe “of American animation “.

But the impetus behind it was spending time on social media during the pandemic and the shock of Murakami discovering the unexpected things he brought out in people.

As the artist’s wall tag for the artwork explains, “Between normal times and emergency times, people changed drastically, and everyone started looking like aliens to me. On social media, for example, someone who seemed like a nice naturalist guy unexpectedly launched an aggressive protest against vaccines, denying their effectiveness and claiming the government was lying. I felt that in an emergency everything about people could change, and I wanted to give shape to that feeling.

The famous 60-year-old artist explains, “He was really influenced by COVID. For two years, everyone had been locked up at home. A lot of things that they couldn’t express and were really bottled up inside started to explode.

Takashi Murakami’s new work, “Unfamiliar People”, is on display at the Broad Museum.
Joshua White / Courtesy of The Broad

“And that’s when I started to see different sides of people that I didn’t know about them. It was almost like Kafka’s Metamorphosiscontinues the Japanese artist, known for his high-low approach to art, his collaborations with brands like Louis Vuitton, and his themes of mourning and tragedy often dressed in poppy flowers and mushrooms (a reference to the atomic bombings of Japan during World War II).

The Broad exhibition — the artist’s exhibition first solo exhibition there – features 12 pieces from the museum’s collection, including Murakami’s 82-foot-wide artwork In the land of the dead, step on the tail of a rainbow (which was created in response to the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011), as well as sculptures and wallpapers. The exhibit also incorporates augmented reality elements throughout the space with QR codes that allow visitors to bring elements of Murakami, such as his happy flowers, to life via cellphones. (The AR features were created with Instagram, design studio Buck, Meta’s Spark AR, and the Broad.) The show runs until September 25.

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Murakami’s monumental work, “In the land of the dead, walking on the tail of a rainbow”.
Joshua White / Courtesy of The Broad

Murakami – who also has an exhibition in New York at the Gagosian Gallery until June 25 – spoke further with THR on the decision to add AR elements to the Broad exhibit, why he doesn’t want to return to his busy pre-pandemic travel schedule, and how his work is influenced by how long his son has played video games for 20 hours straight.

Why did you decide to add AR elements to this exhibition?

In the past, for museum exhibits, I would wallpaper or project onto the wall or add an element on top of the actual presentation of the works, and then for this exhibit, at first, I was thinking of projecting things onto the wall outside, but Then the museum really worried about drivers being distracted and causing traffic accidents.

Then the [idea of] AR technology appeared and I took note of it. I knew [creative director] Kristen [Joy Watts] Instagram for a long time, so I reached out to her to see if we could do anything, and it came together.

Are you back to a normal travel schedule?

Yes, but I don’t want to go back to that schedule. The two years of the pandemic have been stressful – about how to keep your distance. But the other thing is that I’m a geek, and sitting in my studio and using a pencil or something is very comfortable. I really want to go back to my studio.

You were very involved in the creation of NFT. Do you believe they have a long term future?

I am more involved in the structure of the company [of NFTs], not just art. The concept is very important – decentralized authority and giving independent freedom to the creator. That’s what I’m trying to pursue. This is what I think will have longevity.

What has influenced you lately in the entertainment world?

A lot, but these two years the influence came from the game industry. I don’t play games, but my son and daughter play games, mostly Fortnite and animal crossing. It’s super mysterious to me. For example, my boy played Fortnite for over 20 hours one day – he looked crazy and his eyes looked like a junky. So what [he said] ‘I do not want to go to school. I want to play whole days. Eventually my wife quit this game. It feels like a super strong addiction. I want to access this mentality.

Can you talk about some of the influences of the older works on display, such as your monumental painting, In the land of the dead, step on the tail of a rainbowdo you look through the legend of Taoist immortals from Chinese mythology?

The [Daoist immortals and] the Great Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011 was something I really wanted to explore, including the origin mechanism of religion. It was something that I was learning and performing. And I always had the impression that cultures arise in one place, but then they are transferred and transmitted to other regions and other cultures, they are always misinterpreted, there are misunderstandings and they are constantly changing. So this work kind of embodies that process because the original pattern [of the Daoist immortals] and the original paintings are from China, and Soga Shōhaku was a Japanese painter who kind of imported it and made his own work out of it, but already at that time he was kind of deconstructed in his own interpretation. And then I take that again and reinterpret it and change it from the original. So what I did is a complete mess of the original, but I think that’s really the essence of culture and cultural transmissions.

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Broad Founding Director Joanne Heyler, Takashi Murakami, Edythe Broad and Broad Curator Ed Schad
Jojo Korsh / BFA.com, courtesy of The Broad


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Reggie S. Williams