The first exhibition of Takashi Murakami’s work in the Middle East, and his largest show ever, was officially opened at a ceremony last night. Guests got the opportunity to explore a collection of more than 70 works on display at ‘Murakami-Ego’.
The show, hosted at the Al Riwaq exhibition space adjacent to the Museum of Islamic Art, will be open to the public from today until June 24.
The works on show have been gathered from public and private collections all over the world, and arrive in Doha as a finale to a trilogy of international exhibitions, including ‘©Murakami’ and the artist’s exhibition in Versailles.
As well as the retrospective aspect of the exhibition, which comprises pieces produced since 1997, the artist has also created 16 new pieces for the show.
Murakami is an internationally renowned contemporary artist, and the exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the inner workings of his mind and the fantasy world he has created.
This 10-gallery exhibition also features a number of self-portraits, where the artist becomes immersed in this fantasy, interacting with some of the well-known characters he has created through his art and reflecting the biographical or portraiture style of much of Murakami’s work.
Indeed, the first piece visitors see upon entering the exhibition is a huge self portrait balloon – a six metre high inflatable sculpture of the artist. This sets the tone for the artist’s introspection throughout, and is an indication of the sheer scale of this 2,300sqm exhibition.
The artist’s large selection of characters also feature throughout the show, including Mr DOB, Kaikai and Kiki and Oval Buddha, who are present in the exhibition in a variety of media. A work in progress, inspired by the story of the monk Daruma, also provides an interesting look at how some of these pieces have been created.
A circus tent shows animations inspired by Murakami’s characters as well as the music video he created for Kanye West, Good Morning. And the Kaikai and Kiki thanksgiving parade balloons from the Macy’s fashion store in New York are also here in Doha as part of the exhibition.
However, the highlight of the show is the incredible 100m long ‘Arhat Painting’.
Inspired by recent events in his homeland and the Japanese traditions of monks painting in response to natural disasters, the piece tells the story of the relationship between man and nature, and is split into four elements: wind, forest, fire and mountains.
Murakami created the piece for the show following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last year.
He had to redesign his studio to accommodate the piece, and it works perfectly in the large exhibition space offered by the Al Riwaq location.
Qatar Museums Authority chairperson, HE Sheikha al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said: “Qatar Museums Authority is pleased to present Takashi Murakami’s solo exhibition ‘Murakami-Ego’. The exhibition continues to advance QMA’s mission to encourage global cultural dialogue and exchange, as well as celebrating forty years of diplomatic relations between Qatar and Japan.”
Director of public art at QMA, explained that HE Sheikha al-Mayassa had decided to work with Murakami around three years ago, believing that “it would be amazing to do a show and introduce his world to the people in Qatar”.
Curator of the exhibition, Massimiliano Giono, explained that the exhibition offers a glimpse inside the mind of the artist, noting: “I like to think of this exhibition as the foundation of ‘Murakami City’ – Takashi has conceived of this show as an urban experience, a walk into a gigantic artificial landscape, a science fiction environment.”
“For its scale and ambition it is an absolutely unique exhibition, and one that could only be realised here in Doha, thanks to the commitment of the QMA which has embraced the artist’s vision with incredible generosity,” he added.
Gioni explained that Murakami was impressed by the skyline and architecture in Qatar, as well as the way in which the country is embracing the future while celebrating its past.
Referring to the extensive organisation involved and the large team which has been working for many months to install the pieces for the exhibition, he said that the artist often describes himself as a film director, like Steven Spielberg.
“If he is a director, then this is probably his E.T.,” he added.
Opening hours for the exhibition are the same as the MIA, 10.30-5.30pm, Saturday to Thursday, and 2-8pm on Fridays. The exhibition is closed on Tuesdays. There is an admission fee of QR25 for adults, and children under 16 and students can enter free of charge.
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