Recently, I found myself going to the Mori Art Museum located in Roppongi Hills to enjoy the current exhibition of “The 500 Arhats” by internationally acclaimed Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami. Without knowing what to expect, I was amazed by the meaningful works of Murakami and baffled by their dimensions.
The works of Murakami will be on exhibition until March 6, 2016, after more than 14 years since his last exhibition in Tokyo. His large-scale exhibition (and I mean it) is entitled “The 500 Arhats” featuring exclusive new and in-process works.
Takashi Murakami is considered one of Japan’s most influential and active contemporary artists. He is primarily known for his ‘otaku-themes’ in character development and artistic works. Murakami is credited with creating a unique type of artistic style called ‘superflat’, and currently is the head of such international art theory movement.
Murakami has also excelled in combining and creating a unique theme born from the mix of the traditional Japanese aesthetics and elements of post-war culture and society.
The 500 Arhats paintings were created in 2012, as a token of gratitude to Qatar for their prompt action in assisting Japan after the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011. The exhibition of The 500 Arhats was first displayed in Doha, and is currently being exhibited in Japan for the first time ever.
The 500 Arhats are basically a 3-meter high, 100-meter long painting depicting the 500 enlightened followers (arhats) of Buddha who spread his teachings. Murakami gathered a team of more than 200 students from national colleges in order to complete this monumental task while utilizing advanced painting technology. The 500 Arhats try to depict the power of prayer, which is not bound by religious institutions, and the always elusive and mysterious intersection of the finite life and the infinite universe.
The main exhibition works are four sections named after the Chinese traditional guardians of the four cardinal directions (blue dragon of the east, white tiger of the west, red bird of the south, black tortoise of the north) with a representation twist due to the unique style of Murakami.
The exhibition is powerful and the dimensions and degree of detail in every piece is mind blowing. Murakami is an artist of extreme quality that was able to capture abstract concepts of the human condition and portray them in a vibrant manner. This exhibition is a must-go even for those that are not so knowledge about contemporary art.
Just staring at his paintings is good enough to let the imagination run wild. In the end, you will find your mind making sense of intentional or not-so-intentional details.