I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...
The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...
The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...
Tomoharu Murakami’s life and practice involve two major turning points. The first was his encounter with American Abstract Expressionism at the 1964 Guggenheim International Award Exhibition in New York. The monumental canvases he experienced there compelled him to reject the traditional Japanese painting techniques he had been using until that time. Afterward, Murakami embarked on a new approach—one focused on a meditative, meticulous process of building up and breaking down nearly monochrome pieces over the course of months or years.
Murakami has since concentrated on using subtle, unexpected variations of this technique to create richly textured paintings and works on paper that double as records of his dedication to a higher ideal. His paintings consist of a mixture of Japanese pigments and oil paints—almost exclusively jet blacks and reds—mixed with charcoal powder. He applies these materials to the canvas using thousands upon thousands of delicate knife strokes. The works eventually evolve from a basic black underlayer to a complex topography of chromatic and gestural nuance.
Murakami’s works on paper often combine acrylic and oil paint—a feat most artists would claim is impractical, if not untenable—using a pencil for the former and a knife for the latter. In some cases, though, Murakami also renders these pieces by inverting the technique used to produce the black paintings. Rather than just slowly constructing the surfaces, he sometimes works just as painstakingly to wear the accumulated paint away. The end result is just as distinctive and impactful as his canvases, only achieved in a complementary fashion.
The second major turning point in Murakami’s life was his conversion to Catholicism in 1979. After visiting a Trappist monastery in Hokkaido, Japan, he not only joined the church but also modeled his practice on monastic life. For the nearly four decades since, his daily regimen has consisted of little more than painting, praying, eating, and sleeping. Murakami adheres to this ascetic existence in an effort to eliminate the self from his work, hoping instead to access the eternal and the sublime—or, in his own words, to "manifest ‘the profound.’”
Tomoharu Murakami was born in 1938 in Fukushima, Japan. He earned a BFA from Tokyo University of the Arts in 1961. He has exhibited extensively in Japan and internationally in the succeeding years, including at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the New Museum, New York; the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, California; the Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Murakami lives and works in Tokyo.
We have sent you an email containing a link to reset your password. Simply click the link and enter your new password to complete this process.
Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.