Takashi Murakami is known the world over for his collaborations with Kanye, Pharrell Williams and Louis Vuitton, erotic sculptures, cartoon flowers, and cute as heck monsters. Over the weekend the Japanese artist, who references tradition and plays with pop culture, opened his first major show on home soil in 14 years at Tokyo's Mori Art Museum.
Titled The 500 Arhats, the exhibition takes its name from the show’s pièce de résistance—a 100-metre long painting, which will be on display in Japan for the first time. Murakami created the monumental artwork following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which affected the entire country and killed over 15,800 people, as a ‘thank you’ to the nation of Qatar who were quick to come to Japan’s aid. The large-scale work depicts 500 enlightened Buddhist disciples (arhats), and was completed with the help of 200 Japanese art school students. Interestingly, two paintings that inspired the work, also depicting the 500 arhats, will be shown: a 3cm square microscopic painting by Nagasawa Rosetsu from 1798, and some of the scrolls from a series of 100 that date back to the end of the Edo period, meticulously made by Kano Kazunobu over ten years.
The exhibition will also include a screening of Jellyfish Eyes, new work, and some of Murakami’s large-scale sculptures like the incredible towering ‘Flame of Desire—Gold’ and ‘The Birth Cry of the Universe’, the latter of which is still incomplete and has been in production for a decade.