Takashi Murakami, and the Artists He Mentored, at VFA

Takashi Murakami 1962 –

Artist, mentor and celebrity, Takashi Murakami, continues to mix high and low art that speaks to a global audience. He has collaborated with Louis Vuitton and other designers. Murakami collaborated with Hubolt and designed a black watch with his signature flower pattern and, most recently the company has issued a full color watch with the same pattern.

Murakami was born and raised in Tokyo. He planned on studying animation at Tokyo University of the Arts, but studied Nihonga, the ‘traditional’ style of Japanese painting instead, earning a PhD from the university in 1993.

He went on to publish his theory on Superflat, the two-dimensional imagery that uses flat planes of color, His Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., operates in Japan, New York and London, promoting Murakami’s works as well as the works of the artists that he mentors.

The flower pattern can be found on many of Murakami’s sculptures, paintings and prints, like Flowerball-3D Kindergarten, available at VFA.

Chiho Aoshima 1974 –

Chiho Aoshima is one of the most interesting, and successful, artists mentored by Takashi Murakami. Aoshima was not formally trained in art. She graduated from the Department of Economics at Hosei University and then went to work for Murakami at the Kaikai Kiki collective.

Her work bears the influence of anime and manga, with subtly dark undercurrents in each piece. At VFA we have several fine examples of Aoshima’s work, including Building Head-Chameleon and Building Head-Palm Trees, done in 2006.

Aoshima has created public art installations and murals all over the world, from the Union Square subway station in New York to London’s Gloucester Road Tube station.

Her works are included in the permanent collections of the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and the Seattle Art Museum.

KAWS (Brian Donnelly) 1974 –

Through Kaikai Kiki Co., Takashi Murakami helped to promote  the career of KAWS.

The sensibility of KAWS’ paintings, prints and sculptures have a universal appeal and are especially popular in Japan.

In 2021 the Brooklyn Museum, the first major venue to purchase KAWS artwork, held a retrospective of the Brooklyn-based artist’s work, called WHAT PARTY. 

One of the pieces that KAWS did in 2020 is a large sculpture of his familiar Companion character, lying on the floor in a prone position. The artist explained his thoughts about the work in a recent essay in the New York Times: ” I arrived at the composition for Companion 2020 amid the early days of the pandemic in 2020, and its pose resonated with me. The character is lying face down on the ground, and in the space above it I can feel the weight of everything that is on my mind. I hope that viewers, too, can release their own thoughts, anxieties and feelings into that space.” he wrote, “As much as the sculpture bears that burden, it also represents a much-needed pause — a moment to recharge before getting back up and getting on with life.”

Please contact us if you would like more information about the work of Takashi Murakami, Chiho Aoshima, KAWS or any of the other fine artists whose works are available at VFA.

Don Carter. Takashi Murakami’s iconic smiling flowers have been transformed into a collectable timepiece. Creative Boom. December 9, 2021.
Paul Osmond. For the Culture: Why does hip-hop love Takashi Murakami? The Tufts Daily. October 1, 2021.
KAWS. A Companion to Bear Our Burdens. The New York Times. December 6, 2021.
Jason Rosenfeld. KAWS: SPOKE TOO SOON. The Brooklyn Rail. December 2021-January 2022.

Chiho Aoshima Lithographs at VFA

I’m not very proficient in thinking of things in 3D and how they look in the real world. By drawing on traditional Japanese art, I express art on a flat perspective.
— Chiho Aoshima

The magic of Chiho Aoshima’s work lies in her ability to create dreamscapes that appeal to a universal sensibility. Born in Tokyo in 1974, Aoshima graduated from Hosei University with a degree in economics and found that she had a desire to create art, rather than work in finance.

Ukiyo-e and Superflat

Aoshima grew up in a culture full of traditional Japanese art, which is the foundation of her works. Ukiyo-e, the type of art that flourished in the 17th through the nineteenth centuries in Japan, especially the works of Katsushika Hokusai, had a profound influence on Aoshima. Hokusai, whose painting, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, is iconic and recognizable around the world, also painted and produced wood block prints of landscapes, flowers and even erotica. He also painted and illustrated books of Japanese folk tales, many of which included Yueri, the Japanese equivalent of ghosts.

After teaching herself how to use Adobe Illustrator, it was Hokusai’s work, modern manga and anime that shaped the direction of Aoshima’s works. “I didn’t study art,” Aoshima said, “so I’m not very proficient in thinking of things in 3D and how they look in the real world. By drawing on traditional Japanese art, I express art on a flat perspective.”

Her work paralleled the Superflat art movement, founded by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, who has influenced and supported many young artists, including Chiho Aoshima. The similarities between the works of Aoshima and those of Hokusai are apparent, although they were done centuries apart and in very different medium.

Chiho Aoshima’s works are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and the Seattle Art Museum. She has had solo and group exhibits throughout the world.

Chiho Aoshima Lithographs at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about Japanese Apricot, Building Head or any of the other fine art at VFA.

See More Chiho Aoshima Work for Sale

Yusuf Huysal and Ili Saarinen. Interview Chiho Aoshima. TimeOut Tokyo. August 8 2016.
Saatchi Art Magazine. Chiho Aoshima Interview. Reports From Los Angeles. August 11, 2006.
ArtSpace, San Antonio. Chiho Aoshima. 2006.
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