Hypercheerful colors. Grinning, happy flowers. Smiling rabbits. Adorable panda bears. Razor sharp teeth. Dripping, unidentifiable fluids. On second glance, that rabbit seems to have an extra eye or two. Is the Louis Vuitton pattern staring back at me? And where is that tongue going?
The work of Takashi Murakami, contemporary pop artist hailing from that tiny town of Tokyo, is full of hypertastic colorgasms and supercheerful nightmares. Fluffly bunnies frolick with terrifying mystery creatures. Adorably evil fauna prance as psychotropic flora leer at you with the happy emptiness of the lobotomized.
Perhaps you’d like to open your wallet now? Perhaps you’d like to hand over all your money? You can appreciate the aesthetics from an intellectual perspective, but you can also purchase a piece for very own, to dangle off your cellphone or decorate your cubicle. Takashi Murakami’s art manages to ride that line between high and low art like a hot girl on a mechanical bull.
Oh, and if some of this looks familiar? Perhaps like that omnipresent Tokidoki bag/makeup/accesory/everything empire? That’s because Italian (true story–did you think he was Japanese? I’ll admit, I was confused at first!) designer Simone Legno cites Murakami as one of his major influences. After all, it’s all about that Superflat style, baby.
To celebrate this year’s Summer Solstice, Google commissioned Murakami to do a special Google Doodle showcasing this cute with a splash of creepy look–kawaii meets kowaii. In fact, there are actually two fancy doodles for today!
One is for the Northern Hemisphere, where it is the longest day of the year and the official start of the Summer season. The other is for the Southern Hemisphere, where Winter is kicking off today with the shortest day of the year.
Strangely, even though they were done by a Japanese artist, they don’t seem to be showing up on Google’s Japan site–I’ve only found the Summer version on google.co.uk so far, and the Winter version on google.co.nz. Has anyone else had better luck?
If it’s true that it wasn’t shown in Japan, then please insert thoughtful comments on the exportation of Japanese “kawaii culture” for the express purpose of Western consumption here. If not, well…that’s a topic for another day!
I quite appreciate Murakami’s work, and the Superflat style in general. It’s perfect pop culture–enjoyable, just a bit edgy, and though it may be a bit formulaic and not always perfectly original, Andy Warhol would be proud. I especially like these Google Doodles, and think they’re a great way to celebrate the changing of the seasons. What do you think?