AP

Murakami, Malone unite in ‘flower-butterfly’ collaboration

Nov 22, 2022, 2:17 AM | Updated: 10:30 am

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s visions have spanned colorful smiling flowers, a zany take on Mickey Mouse and huge erotic sculptures of animation-inspired figures that have fetched enormous auction prices.

His latest goes down a musical path, in collaboration with American rapper and singer Post Malone.

“To be honest, I really began to listen to him after the pandemic struck, and we were stuck at home all day. I became a big fan,” Murakami said, referring to the social restrictions and emotional stress that came with COVID-19.

Murakami created various artworks and products, featured in a pop-up store in Los Angeles, during Malone’s tour for his latest album, “Twelve Carat Toothache.”

The custom-designed T-shirts, hoodies and trucker hats, as well as mugs and other goods, are also available online, starting Monday, at the NTWRK, a U.S. shopping livestream service.

Malone’s music gets him humming along, like karaoke, filling him with a positive feeling, he said in an online interview with The Associated Press.

“It’s mellow, yet the sound is complex. It’s at the height of hip hop music, yet it’s got a real melody. I fell in love with his sound,” said Murakami.

Typical of the spirit of their collaboration is an image that places Murakami’s flower image next to the butterfly, Malone’s symbol, to become two eyes over a curve: a smiley face that winks.

“It’s a flower and a butterfly, like a marriage,” said Murakami.

Malone expressed delight at the collaborative pieces in a video of their meeting earlier this month.

Murakami has collaborated with other musicians, including Pharrell Williams and Drake. Hip hop, dance music and other contemporary American music are important sources of inspiration for Murakami. He often plays music when he is drawing to get “his brain juices going,” he said.

But when his business was on verge of bankruptcy, right after the pandemic started, he was listening to Rachmaninoff all the time. As time passed, people opened up to investing and even sought art as part of the healing process. Sales jumped and his business recovered, Murakami recalled.

Known as the “Andy Warhol of Japan,” Murakami has exhibited at Rockefeller Center in New York and the Palace of Versailles in France, winning both praise and criticism for his unabashed commercialism.

Murakami has about 200 assistants to help create large-scale artworks at times, be it laughing flowers, psychedelic skulls or deformed old men. His signature icon, which some say is a self-portrait but he insists is just a part of himself like all his artworks, is the Mickey Mouse-like “Mr. DOB.”

A student of traditional Japanese painting at the prestigious Tokyo University of the Arts, Murakami’s art is rooted in the Japanese legacy of the Edo-era woodblock-print masters.

Murakami coined the term “Superflat” to describe his style, linking with such history, exemplified in the emphasis on distinct outlines, which contrasts with Western art’s more realistic perspective and form.

It’s fitting that another dazzling artwork he has created recently is a huge curtain at Tokyo’s Kabuki theater, a traditional performance art that combines dance, music and acting, dating to the 17th century.

Murakami’s depictions of the various roles the featured star actor plays, such as samurai and street peddlers, in his manga-like style, are splattered across a huge cloth over the whole stage.

Usually, Kabuki curtains depict flowers and birds, always more calmly, and sparsely.

Murakami feels he is most unappreciated in his home country. He thinks Japanese don’t like that his work is assertive and brash, not fluffy cute.

While based in Saitama, north of Tokyo, he has always been more in demand abroad. He will be in Dubai and Indonesia next. He is a superstar in China.

Murakami’s face becomes a bit sad when he says he expects to have only several years left to do his art. His father got Alzheimer’s at 70. Murakami is 60. He thinks that fate is in his genes.

“I’ve thought a lot about the true purpose of being an artist, and I think it’s to leave information for the future what the artist sees in the real world. My jobs is to leave, through my own filter, what I see,” he said.

“That is what I want to keep doing.”

___

Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Washington. The U.S. Supreme Court has h...

Associated Press

Supreme Court decision on Trump’s election status could come Monday morning

A SCOTUS decision could come Monday in the case about whether Trump can be kicked off the ballot over his efforts to undo his 2020 defeat.

10 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley poses for a selfie after speakin...

Associated Press

Nikki Haley wins D.C. Republican primary, her first 2024 victory

Nikki Haley has won the Republican primary in the District of Columbia, notching her first victory of the 2024 campaign.

10 hours ago

An Apache group that has fought to protect land it considers sacred from a copper mining project in...

Associated Press

A US appeals court ruling could allow mine development in central Arizona on land sacred to Apaches

An Apache group that has fought to protect land from a copper mining project in central Arizona suffered a significant blow.

15 hours ago

On Friday, March 1, 2024, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said yogurt sold in the U.S. can ma...

Associated Press

Eating yogurt may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, FDA says

Eating at least two cups of yogurt a week might reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

17 hours ago

Arizona will not approve new housing construction on the fast-growing edges of metro Phoenix that r...

Associated Press

Arizona Senate passes plan to manage rural groundwater, but final success is uncertain

A plan to manage rural groundwater passed the Arizona Senate amid concerns about the availability of sufficient water for future generations.

3 days ago

A woman pauses while shopping at a Kohl's store in Clifton, N.J., Jan. 26, 2024. On Thursday, Feb. ...

Associated Press

Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge picked up last month in sign of still-elevated prices

An inflation gauge favored by the Federal Reserve increased in January, the latest sign that the slowdown in U.S. consumer price increases is occurring unevenly from month to month.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Murakami, Malone unite in ‘flower-butterfly’ collaboration