Murakami Exhibits ‘Sperm Lasso’ at MOCA

When Kanye West sang, ‘That don’t kill me, can only make me stronger,’ he was probably not thinking about a life-size, anatomically incorrect anime boy who whips his homemade sperm lasso in your face. Not only is this grotesquely bizarre, it changes the way we perceive those beloved after school television characters many of us grew up watching. Yet, why did West hire artist Takashi Murakami for his latest album, and why did Marc Jacobs collaborate with Murakami on a line of happy cherry blossom handbags for the house of Louis Vuitton? What attracted these household names to rise to the challenge of entering Murakami’s twisted universe?
Last week, the United States opened its arms to Murakami as the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles featured his exhibition, running until Feb. 11, 2008. With a variety of mediums that range from sculpture, video, painting and even accessories, entering a Murakami show is like going to Disneyland on crack. Even timeless American icons like Mickey Mouse do not escape this artist’s critique.
No artist in history has ever been able to embrace pop culture like Murakami has. With his motif of strange cartoon eyes, happy smiling sunflowers and a parade of cute furry woodland creatures, even the most young at heart are wrenched at the sight of this anime invasion. Best known for the success of his graphic design on the Monogram Mutlicolore line of Louis Vuitton hand-bags, Murakami has established his own signature name in the world of pop art.
Murakami began his career after graduating with a B.A., M.F.A and a Ph.D. from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. His artwork paved the way for a particular urban style called ‘Superflat’ which acknowledges a movement toward mass-produced entertainment and its effects on contemporary aesthetics. ‘Superflat’ derives from a combination of animation and the Otaku culture producing flat images in an array of bright colors.
Everything about Murakami is distinguished through larger-than-life anime figurines practicing obscene postures to a room full of colorful sunflowers smiling happily at every corner. This overwhelming plethora of cuteness is what makes Murakami unique. Rather than turning against consumerism and pop culture, he welcomes it with open arms.
From large monochrome prints to a series of canvases that resemble old Japanese scrolls, Murakami inserts his version of a Japanese Mickey named Mr. DOB consistently throughout all of his work. Though each piece portrays this character differently, the overall feeling leaves one dizzy with such an overwhelming consumption of his friendly rodent.
The exhibit also allows viewers to enter a gallery of toys and T-shirt prints by Murakami that scream ‘Buy me! I’m a cute but useless inanimate object!’ There is even a real Louis Vuitton store inside the heart of the museum where visitors can purchase bags and accessories from the Monogram Mutlicolore line.
Though some may call it insanity, and others see it as a rebellion against the cold commercialism of today’s society, Murakami’s exhibit is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to indulge in the hyper-realism that makes fantasy so fabulous. It is about the flashiness and glamour that makes popular culture popular and for a young media saturated generation, sometimes it’s just easier to go with the flow. This exhibit runs well into the new year so those with brave hearts and even braver stomachs are recommended to plunge into the world of Takashi Murakami.