Takashi Murakami. Flower Jet Coin NFT

Takashi Murakami is a monumental artist and an artist who also likes the monumental. In his latest exhibition at Gagosian’s in Le Bourget, Murakami is showing several monumental pieces: the 23 meter long x 5 meter high painting inspired by the stage curtain he created for the kabuki-za in Ginza, Japan, to celebrate actor and producer Ichikawa Ebizo XI. 

Facing it is the spectacular Dragon in Clouds - Indigo Blue. Takashi Murakami, whose work embodies modernity and is looking at the future in all its aspects, is also a great student of history and tradition. His Dragon in Clouds is a response to 18th Century artist Soga Shohaku’s Dragon and Clouds, painted in 1763. The painting resonates also with contemporary Japanese visual culture and the video game Blue Dragon, in particular. 

Another wall is covered with the pixelated portraits of illustrious contributors to the fields of economics over the past Millennium, from Colbert and Benjamin Franklin to Elon Musk and Satoshi Nakamoto, the elusive creator or Bitcoin. The confrontation between these characters, who have had such an impact on the world’s economy, and aesthetic of video games, is a way for Murakami to comment on their real impact. They become humorous little game characters from a 1980's game, when technology was still in its infancy. 

There are also two giant paintings of flowers, a theme which has become almost a logo for Murakami. At the opening brunch, on Saturday, June 10, guests were lining up to have one of the food containers decorated with Murakami’s trademark flower. 

Finally, in a smaller space to the side, two mirror plated figures representing futuristic anime-style avatars, real world interpretations of his Clone X NFTs that Murakami developed with RTFKT Studios. They are a manifestation of the artist’s fascination with the metaverse and the hybrid nature of art today. Murakami is both trained in the techniques and aesthetics of traditional Japanese painting, but also immersed in current pop cultural styles, modes, personalities and technologies. For the opening of his show, Takashi Murakami designed a special NFT, Flower Jet Coin NFT, available for free that day. Proof of the artist’s huge star status, over 600 people came to get their NFT, twice the number of people who were expected.  

Jean-Sébastien Stehli

Takashi Murakami, Understanding the New Cognitive Domain Gagosian Le Bourget. Paris, France. Through December 22, 2023.

June 13, 2023 — Jean Sebastien Stehli