© murakami: brooklyn museum

Next stop: Takashi Murakami exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. We jumped on the 2 train to Brooklyn and passed time observing some underground entertainment. A huge crowd surrounded a midget flawlessly dancing like MJ in the Beat It video; a guy wearing a mime costume and a creepy Phantom of the Opera mask writhed on the station floor and a crew of 10 year old breakdancers hustled for change on the train. We emerged on the parkway right in front of the museum - which sits next to the famed botanical gardens. Its been a couple years since my last visit, which was for the retrospective Basquiat exhibit - but I enjoy the manageable size of their galleries.

As expected, the crowd was full of trend chasing hipsters and otakus. From yards away, you can see a huge Murakami sculpture installation dominating the museum lobby interior. The towering installation features the character Mr. Pointy, surrounded by smiling flowers, mushrooms and other curious characters. Mr. DOB hung from above and both were immediate photo-ops for everybody. I did see one little boy who was scared by it all.

The exhibit takes you into the colorfully twisted world of Murakami. Featured artwork included naked anime characters in sculpture form, immense paintings, wallpapered rooms and animation films. Right smack dab in the middle of the exhibit is a Louis Vuitton shop featuring Murakami designed bags. Yupp, while you browse the exhibit, you can buy an insanely expensive LV bag. Fitting, since Murakami's artwork both comments and participates in the culture of consumption.

The show begins with an explanation of Superflat - an otaku influenced representation of the two-dimensionality of Japanese graphic art, animation and the consumer culture. The various interpolations of his "DOB" character serves as a comment on the longevity of characters (and knockoffs) like Mickey Mouse, Sonic and Hello Kitty in pop culture.

Another intriguing sculpture installation features "Hiropan" and "My Lonesome Cowboy" - a giant figurine of a naked girl and boy encircled by their body fluids. Streams of milk are squeezed out of Hiropan's giant breasts and streams of sperm are ejaculating in swirls around the boy. "Second Mission Project ko2" is another figurine installation showing another anime female character with detailed vagina at eye-level transforming into a jet airplane. A set of short films about "Inochi" focuses on an inadequate teenager with an alien head falling in love with a girl and failing to control his erections. These works undoubtedly reference the twisted sense of sexuality in the otaku anime world.

A short animation film showcases the adventures of bunny-eared characters Kiki (elegant) and Kaikai (bizarre) including inappropriate poopage. You can't help but smile while standing in the wallpapered room of a million smiling flowers. And you can't help feeling creeped out by the wallpapered room of a million eyes. There are also pieces with a bleaker outlook - distorted mushrooms and skulls on acidic landscapes which reflect upon atomic bombs and mushroom clouds. I also enjoyed his most recent work - a rendering of Daruma - the ancient monk who was responsible for bringing Zen Buddhism to China and Japan.

Overall the exhibit was a beautiful assault on the senses - an imaginative mix of art that definitely demands a reaction.


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