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 –
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.”
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.