An Opera for Animals was first staged at Para Site in Hong Kong between 23 March and 2 June 2019, with works by over 48 artists and collectives that use opera as a metaphor for modes of contemporary, cross-disciplinary art-making. The exhibition's second iteration takes up a large portion of the Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) in Shanghai (22 June–25...
For three months from 1 June to 1 September 2019, Tai Kwun Contemporary in Hong Kong showcases MURAKAMI vs MURAKAMI, a major survey exhibition of the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. Curated by Tobias Berger, head of art at Tai Kwun, and Gunnar B Kvaran, director of Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, the exhibition spans the three floors of Tai Kwun's...
Get Up Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers at Somerset House in London (12 June–15 September 2019) surveys more than half a century of black creativity in Britain and beyond across the fields of art, film, photography, music, design, fashion, and literature.Curated by Zak Ové, works by approximately 100 intergenerational black...
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.
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