Hin­ter sei­nen Wer­ken steckt viel mehr als ein­fach nur Kön­nen. Dahin­ter steckt eine Nach­richt. Der japa­ni­sche Künst­ler im Porträt.

Even if you have never heard the term “super­flat”, many famous Japa­ne­se artists have used a simi­lar tech­ni­que, espe­cial­ly in tra­di­tio­nal art. Take for examp­le “The Gre­at Wave off Kana­ga­wa”, prin­ted by Katsus­hi­ka Hoku­sai. The wood­block print is more two dimen­sio­nal than three dimen­sio­nal, which was a very com­mon trend that is detec­ta­ble throughout Japa­ne­se art history.

Heavily Discussed

The term “super­flat” is a very broad term that can defi­ne various sub­ject mat­ters. Some works explo­re the sexu­al fetis­hism and con­su­me­rism of dif­fe­rent media, a cau­se of the Wes­ter­niz­a­ti­on, that was com­mon in post-war Japa­ne­se culture. 

One thing that was pre­va­lent in that time, was loli­con art, a very con­tro­ver­si­al art form. Loli­con art is descri­bed as media focu­sing on the attrac­tion to young or pre­pu­be­scent girls, often depic­ting the­se girls in an “ero­tic-cute” man­ner. The­re has been a lot of con­tro­ver­sy around this art for obvious rea­sons. Many coun­tries, inclu­ding Japan, have estab­lis­hed laws to regu­la­te expli­cit con­tent con­tai­ning child­ren or child-like cha­rac­ters. Des­pi­te this, some say it’s not an expres­si­on of pae­do­phi­lia but more so a form of rebel­li­on, sin­ce the “ota­ku”, which trans­la­tes rough­ly to “nerd”, feel exclu­ded from socie­ty and use this media to express their sen­se of alie­na­ti­on from society.

Murakami’s Role

Taka­shi Murakami’s most famous sculp­tu­re cal­led “Hiro­pon” is a mes­sa­ge to ota­ku cul­tu­re cal­ling out its sho­cking sexua­li­ty that it likes to depict. Taka­shi Mura­ka­mi, a con­tem­pora­ry artist known for his desi­re to unite the artis­tic and the com­mer­cial, crea­ted the term “super­flat”, which descri­bes a post­mo­dern art move­ment influ­en­ced by man­ga and ani­me. He uses the term to descri­be both the aes­the­tic cha­rac­te­ris­tics of tra­di­tio­nal Japa­ne­se art and the “shal­low emp­ti­ness of Japa­ne­se con­su­mer culture”.

Taka­shi Mura­ka­mi likes to blur the line bet­ween high and low arts. High arts are part of high cul­tu­re, which is a term for objects, that socie­ty deems as aes­the­tic and exem­pla­ry art, as well as intel­lec­tu­al works. It iden­ti­fies the cul­tu­re of an upper-class and its broad know­ledge and tra­di­ti­on. Low arts or low cul­tu­re is a dero­ga­to­ry term for objects of popu­lar cul­tu­re that have mass appeal and depict tra­di­tio­nal working-class values. Mura­ka­mi crea­tes this hybrid of high and low arts by mer­ging child­li­ke sen­si­bi­li­ty with dar­ker themes. 

His art is also famous for the big use of colour, the incor­po­ra­ti­on of motifs from Japa­ne­se tra­di­tio­nal cul­tu­re, flat sur­faces and con­tent that can be descri­bed as “cute” and “psy­che­de­lic”. A good examp­le are his smi­ling sun­flowers, that have every colour, the rain­bow holds. Mura­ka­mi has crea­ted as much as 727 lar­ge pain­tings, sculp­tures, bal­loo­ns, wall­pa­per instal­la­ti­ons, ani­ma­ted works, prints, pos­ters, and assor­ted merchandise.

Committed to the Offspring

Taka­shi is also the foun­der and pre­si­dent of Kai­kai Kiki Co., which pro­du­ces and pro­mo­tes Takashi’s art­work but also mana­ges the care­er of youn­ger artists. Mura­ka­mi has thus made it his mis­si­on to sup­port and nur­tu­re the care­ers of the youn­ger genera­ti­on of Japa­ne­se artists, wan­ting to crea­te and build a more ori­gi­nal and sus­tainab­le art mar­ket in Japan.

Bild mit freund­li­cher Geneh­mi­gung von Adam S. Boar­man – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 und w:User:Kasuga~enwiki – Eige­nes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0
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