Takashi Muramaki: The Octopus Eats It's Own Leg

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When I was visiting Vancouver in early February I had the chance to go to the Vancouver Art Gallery. We arrived on Saturday, just in time for Murakami's new exhibition that opened that day. It was such a stroke of luck, because originally my mum and I were planning on visiting the portraiture exhibit from the Royal Collection (which we still did.) However, I was a little more excited for Takashi Murakami's: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg exhibition. I am so glad we had the chance to go! It was truly amazing seeing how this contemporary artist works and the gallery did such a wonderful job in curating the exhibition. If you find yourself in Vancouver I highly recommend visiting it, the exhibit runs until May 6, 2018, so you definitely have some time left! 

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This show was a major retrospective of the artist's work, spanning three decades of the artist's career. This presentation of Murakami's works displays over fifty works from his earlier works to his more recent pieces, as well as some works made specifically for the Vancouver Art Gallery's exhibition. This is the first time Takashi Murakami's work has been shown in Canada and display how the artist works with consistent themes. The artist's inspiration for his work range from cultural and historical, to present day pop culture. 

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His earlier work adheres to a traditional Japanese style of painting, which he was originally trained in. He takes these techniques and formats and melts them with contemporary subject matter, like nuclear power and consumerism. As his art matured, so did his practice and he began working in his distinctive style "Superflat" concept. This style is his most recognizable and gave way to his most popular form, Mr. DOB, a mouse-like character that is part ambassador and part self-portrait for the artist. Murakami became quite wrapped up in the centre of luxury and celebrity culture, even designing the album cover of Kayne West's album Graduation.  

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However, Murakami felt he needed to step away from the culture of consumerism and come back to his art in a new lens. This was also garnered by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011 that killed over 15,000 people in Japan. He felt deeply affected by this disaster that he returned to his training in the classics to find an answer. His research led him to the Buddhist culture and iconography, which he blends with both his historical and contemporary views of Japanese training. 

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Even if you are not an art historian or art lover I would highly recommend visiting this truly amazing show. The colours and energy behind each piece are something everyone can enjoy. Book your tickets in advance, as the line up, especially on weekends, can be quite long to enter the gallery for this exhibition. 

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