Monday, December 03, 2007

Takashi Murakami, Rock Star

Takashi Murakami, artist, designer, painter, rock star.

He certainly looked like a rock star when he descended those stairs at the Taipei Arena last Friday night. For most of his two-hour performance, he had strobe lights focused on him, and they changed from blue to purple to green during the evening.

His audience numbered hundreds, if not thousands. Taiwanese love manga and Japanese cartoon culture, so for a star who uses the otaku culture as his base, it's not a surprise. Taiwanese also love Louis Vuitton and other Western luxury logo brands, so for a star whose LV bags are as famous as his art, it's not a surprise.

We didn't learn too much new about Murakami during his two-hour speech - which included translation from Japanese into Chinese by an interpreter, but not simultaneously. He talked about his views on money and art, already well known from his book, and gave the audience an overview of his career.

The most exciting parts came when he presented his cartoon movies, three in all. The first one was the famous Louis Vuitton ad, where a little girl waiting outside a Vuitton store is swallowed up by a monster creature and travels through a land full of logos to the sound of a catchy dance beat. The other shorts had a similar imagery, 'The Creatures from Planet 66' and Kaikai & Kiki, named after his company, and featuring watermelons and manure.

Instead of lots of Louis Vuitton, the omnipresent sponsors of the event were Mercedes, which had its new C-class bedecked with Murakami-style flowers outside and inside the arena, and Motorola, which had the artist mention his free phone.

The weirdest surprise was the present each member of the public received: a free ticket for the Murakami exhibition at the MOCA in ... Los Angeles, just ten hours flying from Taipei. Thank you, Takashi!

In the meantime, I think I'll stick closer to home, to the exhibition of plastic vinyl from Japan's Kaiyodo at the Museum of Fine Arts, right here in Taipei.


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