MCA Talk: Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami discusses his exhibition Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg with James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator Michael Darling.

Michael Darling:

We’ve got a lot of slides up here that we can go through at our discretion, but one of the things that I thought maybe would be great for us to talk about first is the exhibition itself. I talked you into this crazy idea of trying to focus on the development of your painting over the years, and in particular, I convinced you to start with some of your very earliest pieces, which are in the show. Would you mind talking a little bit about your early training and how – even maybe how relevant it is to the work you’re making today?

Takashi Murakami:

Thank you so much for coming. So the – I want to explain like you know, Japanese is much better to precise things. Part of thing is speaking Japanese and part of the thing is English. So you know, I want to explain about my background, like kind of when I was college student. So that thing I want to explain in Japanese.

Yuko Bartless, translater for Takashi Murakami:

So first, I really wanted to become an animator, and that’s what I wanted to study. But unfortunately still to this day, I have no talent. And I wanted to – so I wanted to find a work in animation, so that’s why I choose to study drawing and painting in university. And I chose Japanese painting, Nihonga, department because I thought it would be easiest to get in. But however, it took me two – I spent two years not being able to get in, trying the entrance examination again, and then after university, I also trained to draw manga. But then, so when I painted this painting, it’s just really half baked, and it’s a painting of a turtle called mata mata in Amazon area.

And I’m really embarrassed by this painting, so Michael really wanted to include this in the show, and I resisted. I really, really resisted until the end, but he pushed it into the show. So I’m very embarrassed and I only have bad memories about it.

Michael Darling:

Thank you for indulging me in that, Takashi. I mean I as the curator guy up here see things in this early work that I think being continued later, there are these really craggy characters in the most recent paintings. There’s an absolute precision in the recent paintings that I think is echoed in the early stuff. But let’s embarrass you a little bit more with one more early piece. And one of the things when I first saw these in the studio, I was blown away. I’d never seen them before. He really hasn’t shown then outside of Japan, but I think they really lay the groundwork for both his grounding in eastern Asian traditions, but then also where he goes with that, how he starts to embrace Western approaches to contemporary art – and maybe this picture, Takashi, from 1988, is a good example of where you start to blend your Nihonga influences with some Western influences.

Yuko Bartless:

So for this painting, there are roughly three points that I’m very embarrassed about. So the first point is that this is a – I’m imitating Anselm Keifer.

So at the same time, I made this painting, I was also making a video work. And later on, I’ll go on to make a smoke or clouds from atomic bomb and things like that.

But my main theme, since then, I have explored the scenery of Japan after defeat in the war.

But this painting, the motif, is the Three Mile Island, the nuclear power plant. When it blew up, I was watching on TV how it was shut down. At the time, of course, you didn’t have computer and screen to capture those images, so I took photograph of TV news, and that’s how this painting came about.

Takashi Murakami:

It’s my first foray into politically themed paintings, so that’s a little embarrassing as well.

So the third point that I’m embarrassed about, I mentioned Keifer as the first one, but before Keifer, I was imitating Japanese painter Shinro Ohtake, whose work is very, very similar to Keifer, and I was imitating his painting, and I was making this painting, and then in the midst of – in the process, I realized the similarity.

And so throughout the painting process, there’s been a lot of troubling feeling about on the technical level.

And so the entire time, I was really troubled about – I couldn’t find the right way – right technique, and that shows, so that’s the embarrassing point.

Michael Darling:

Well I think it’s going to be really great for people to see these. They’re also joined by this other huge painting, which is where I think you’re still under the influence of Nihonga, working through Nihonga principles, but also again, flowing this – this is about 23 feet wide and 12-plus feet tall.

Also the scale for this seems to me – where you’re finding that way towards a more spectacular type of expression, but still grounded in Nihonga. Is that a fair way to characterize this?

Yuko Bartless:

So I think it’s best to explain this background in Japanese as well, so excuse me. But it has many, many stories behind this painting, but one of them is that around the time I was painting this back then,

Nihonga, the Japanese painting industry was in the midst of the bubble economy, and the Nihonga painters were really, really making a lot of profit.

So watching it, I was just really angered and really annoyed by them. And perhaps my student-year self – if my student-year self looked at me now, I’ll be very, very annoyed as well.

So there were successful, making profits, and – but then I kind of accidentally made it into the department of that genre. So then I wanted to earn a PhD in that genre, so – in that Nihonga style.

So I had to use the materials related to this traditional painting style and practice creating some work. That’s why – that’s the story behind how this painting came about.

Takashi Murakami:

And also that this painting that I was – tried to – what is a challenge this painting was first time to making abstraction paintings, just [cut out figures?].

So then you know, how can I build to the painting stuff. The painting is completely same way to the architecture. You know, for example, architecture is necessary to how building mathematics or a technical thing.

So something like that –

painting looks like easy, but the professional painting and understanding in architect in the painting. So that is the first time I succeed. Not complete, not 100 percent,

but this is first time to succeed about abstraction painting, nothing to the motif. But you know, can say this is a painting, minimum architect insight. So that is this painting background also.

I believe.

Michael Darling:

Great.

Well one thing that we see throughout the first half of your career, too, is a lot of quite monochromatic painting backgrounds, and that you would add figures onto them.

And so we’ve got some great examples in the show, but one of the things we also tried to trace in the exhibition is the evolution of your character, Mr. DOB.

We’ve got some fantastic examples of all different scales and types, but maybe, would you mind talking a little bit about Mr. DOB, how he came about and what he really even means to you today?

Yuko Bartless:

So when I talk about the background about this story, it’s often misinterpreted and misunderstood.

But around this time when I first created this character –

so in Japan, [the] Japanese contemporary art scene, American trends would come with maybe two years’ delay. So around this time, language art from American artists like Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer, their works were very popular in Japan, and Japanese contemporary artists were basically imitating them and copying them. And I really didn’t like it because I believe that contemporary art was not about –

Takashi Murakami:

I didn’t like that mean – I love Jenny Holzer and I love Barbara Kruger.

I don’t like the imitated by these artists – in Japanese artists piece. Sorry. So this is many time misunderstanding and writing in article – “I hate Takashi Murakami, I hate Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer.”

This is, you know, I love these artists.

Yuko Bartless:

Excuse me if I was confusing.

But yes, so he hated the fact that the Japanese artists were imitating because he believed that contemporary – I believe that contemporary art is not about imitating, but about expressing and reflecting the original something – the life you are actually living. That’s what I thought, and I do think that’s what it is. So I thought it’s just an easy way out to copy American art concept. But at the same time, it was true that the language art was very popular in Japan at the time, so I decided to make my own language art of a sort, and of course, Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer, their language art had very strong messages. So I decided to use completely meaningless phrases – phrase, and when I tried making this language art, I became a character, so I ended up with a character. But I also wanted to make a character to begin with. So once I created a character, the language art part of it kind of stepped back into the background, and then the character took on its own life.

So Mr. DOB –

What Mr. DOB is, is that the two ears has D and B, and the face is O.

And the – what it came from, as language art, is –

it’s not going to make any sense to you because it’s a nonsensical phrase in Japanese, but it’s Dobochite Dobochite osham-anbe.

It’s a really nonsensical phrase, so it probably won’t make any sense to you.

Michael Darling:

Takashi, there – this show looks at over 30 years of your work, especially through the lens of painting, but seeing this arc, are there certain moments that maybe the show reminds you of that you can identify as real turning points?

Either turning points or high points you’re really proud of or that pushed your work forward to the next chapter?

Takashi Murakami:

Yes, so Michael you choose – each piece is my turning point, kind of. Yes, it’s truly – so this piece is big, big turning point because I was – that moment was 36 years old,

I got gout because I ate the noodle every day. And like a smoking, and no sleeping.

Looks like very bad condition for that lifestyle, and then my leg is double scale. I was shocking – oh my god, this is a virus. I go to the hospital.

“Oh, you have gout.”

Then my goodness, I got old, and that moment, I was mentioned, “I will die soon.” That’s why one of my character, DOB, was dying.

Like puking and shitting, and you know, looks like mini-antenna thing and still want to grow or still want to understanding of the world. But this is a process in dying.

So that is, you know, a very honest – not message, looks like very honest feeling. You know, painted by that – you know, that design team.

Michael Darling:

Yeah, that painting is really a spectacular one.

You also in our conversations identified this point around the time that you worked with Kanye, and these are two paintings that are in the exhibition.

The one on your left is a brand new painting

that you made just for the exhibition,

which is spectacular.

But you identified this period as a real turning point to me.

You wanted to especially include some of your collaborative works in the exhibition like this,

and then soon thereafter, you really started to make a turn towards

more historical material, like these Daruma paintings.

Is there anything about that period, 2007/2008 you’d like to talk about?

Takashi Murakami:

But I have a big question, Michael:

Why you’re not choosing for that Louis Vuitton painting?

Michael Darling:

It’s coming later.

Takashi Murakami:

Okay, but the exhibition it’s nothing because that was my big, big turning point

because the Kanye West job –

why I can do that. So because after that Louis Vuitton stuff –

because Louis Vuitton project was biggest impact.

So about the – because you know, I was enjoying with this collaboration with Marc Jacobs, but in reality, in art world,

the auction house decided the Takashi Murakami is dead.

So that mean that you know, secondary market prices like over 30 percent is down. So I was freezing, like what is art – the epic.

Because in fashion world is big success, but in art world, in the market is – art people is, how can I say, diffused this choice. But you know, after that, okay, so never mind. Because I am not the US artist. I am not European artist. I am Japanese Asian. So I cannot join with Western art scene. Okay.

So can’t do that, anything, like the Lego jacket and – yes, and kind of the making some accessory. That toy stuff, yes.

Everything, can do that. So that is – I decided after that – before I did the many T-shirts or toy stuff, but after the Louis Vuitton shock, myself, so you know, I – I decided I can do that, anything, so because I am not in serious art world.

I still believe myself –

I am outsider in art world.

So that’s why the Kanye West thing is freeze watching the blue background, the painting. This is exactly the same thing in record jacket, like how can I say – yeah - can I? Yeah, this is, you know, having copyright – who is a copyright – include in a painting, but this is known architect – the painting, known architect painting. So that is you know, this – this painting is very unique.

Michael Darling:

Yeah, it provides a great inflection point in the exhibition to when we start to turn to look at this work, such as the Daruma paintings, these Corime paintings where it really – you’re making very - what seems to me a very obvious turn back towards Asian art history. Then of course another turning point you’ve identified and I think it shows in the exhibition is the 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Japan, which led to among other things the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster, which in one of your responses was to start making paintings of these Buddhist monk figures that are called arhats.

Could you talk a little bit about that period?

Yuko Bartless:

So I feel like I’ve answered this similar question many times in different interviews, but after the tsunami, the great earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the fact that tens of thousands of people died in my own country and also very close by to where I was, was a really big reason that I turned to this theme. And also, I had a huge [resistance] to radiation and nuclear power plant as we’ve talked about since I was young. But just an hour and a half away by car from my own studio in Fukushima, the nuclear power plant exploded twice.

My mother has actually experienced the Nagasaki atomic bomb, and she has told me ever since I was young – after the bombing, the sky turned in rainbow color, and around my studio, a day or two after, when the nuclear power plant exploded, the wind was really strong.

I looked up at the sky, and the sky looked purple. So in that kind of situation, I started to think maybe it’s not really the time for me to be pursuing this Western-styled themed contemporary art, and then I started taking interest in what these arhats – the paintings, the themes of arhats might be in these religious paintings, Japanese paintings in the past, and who are the people who painted this type of religious paintings, and that’s how I started thinking about Japanese religious painting, studying it, and interpreting – reinterpreted them in my own way.

Michael Darling:

That’s great.

One of the real joys of the exhibition for me is seeing all of this work that’s come after that period, and this is just one of many paintings that are in this style that are incredibly dense and incredibly rich and amazing details,

but then also have this weighty subject matter

at the heart of them as well.

We titled the exhibition The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg,

and it’s been exciting to see how you’ve embraced that theme,

this octopus character has emerged

that we’ve used in graphics,

obviously in the costume tonight.

There’s –

Takashi Murakami:

. . . for you!

Michael Darling:

So you’ve probably seen the octopus mascot in the lobby, hopefully on your way in, and then one of the things that’s also incredibly exciting is Takashi has made a 114-foot-long brand new painting for the exhibition that wraps around an entire room called The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, and one of the central images is this image of a skull-like octopus character. But is there – would you like to say anything about how you arrived at this title, Takashi? I mean it was really you, and I embraced it as soon as you suggested it.

Yuko Bartless:

So when I actually came up with this title, I didn’t really realize, but I realize now that in the movie Finding Dory, Finding Nemo 2, there’s actually an octopus with only seven legs. So it’s like something that is lacking an element, seems like an octopus here, and also in the movie Arrival, the alien hectopods, they seem to have seven legs.

Maybe they’re octopus, they’re squid, I don’t know.

But when I came up with the title, I was thinking about myself using my own character, Mr. DOB, repeatedly, in my paintings. I keep having – reusing the reference. It’s as if I’ve been eating my own references and artwork in order to continue surviving in my career. So in a sense, it was a self-deprecating self portrait, and that’s how I came up with the octopus eating its own leg to survive, but sort of slowly shrinking. Then I thought about the movie Arrival. Hey, there’s an alien with seven legs, not that that really has any point.

That’s the mood.

Michael Darling:

Well I think we have some octopus temporary tattoos that we’ll be passing out and things like that that we’ll be passing out over the course of the show, so keep your eyes open for more octopus imagery. The exhibition does have a few sculptures here and there that we’ve included, including this great piece, Kanye Bear, which is really fun. There are these enormous demon sculptures that you’ll see when we get into the exhibition, and also a brand new sculpture.

This is taken from Instagram, and I kind of wanted to get to that in a second here, skipping past a few of my other slides where I wanted to ask you about other media that you’d debuted this Jellyfish Eyes movie here in the MCA theater a couple of years ago.

Here is some of the material we talked about related to Artforum, and of course we also briefly touched on your collaborations with Kanye West, but you’ve also done some things with Pharrell Williams, like this great animated music video that you made with your character there and Pharrell’s character. I also included just some things like your Vans collaboration, too. One of the things that’s been a really interesting and I think super innovative and I’ve gotten lots of comments from people, is how you have really made the creation of the new works for this exhibition incredibly transparent. You’ve been posting pictures on Instagram constantly as this new painting is being developed.

I have some other slides of the sculpture – and again as I said,

I’ve got all these great comments where people feel like you’re really opening up your studio, they feel it’s incredibly generous, and I wonder if you could talk a little bit about what motivated you to do this, and also if you found it to be a positive experience?

Yuko Bartless:

Honestly speaking, this is a huge project, and there are people who would commission my works, other works, and invest in my activities. So there are a lot of people waiting for the commissioned work to be completed, but I haven’t been able to work on them. I was really trying to show that this is a huge project and I’m really, really busy right now. This is what I’m working on. Just a second. This is what I’m working on. So that was the purpose for this.

Takashi Murakami:

Some guys waiting for over two years, so that’s why "I’m sorry, I’m sorry," this is my message. And ta-da.

Michael Darling:

But I mean most artists, you know, don’t like to show all of these stages of progress. They might think that it’s revealing secrets, they might not think these are ready for consumption by the audience, but was that a problem for you to share all of the early versions and even when they’re not finished?

Takashi Murakami:

Yeah because you know, I was big shock when I was 22 years old, 20 years old. Looks like I saw the making a movie, like Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars. The making movie was shocking because this is the same feeling. Why – so you open the box? This is magic. But you open the box, and you know, this is a trick. Right? I want to believe Star Wars, but what is that? But at the same time, wow, this is great technique and great process, and I want to go into this industry.

And then, right now is, you know, everywhere can see the Marvel movie four times, fifth times. Computer graphics generation is how grow came from Star Wars’ making movie. So I think that process to open the box to the public maybe you know, some young kids. Oh my god – can do that, I can do something like that, this is easy. This is bad quality. Much better. So my technique is good.

So looks like I want to invitation to the young kids, or like you know, opened a – everything is great experience because I have a great experience.

Then now is movie industry, you know, the release, the making movies separately, and this is available. So when I’m buying for the Lord of the Rings special edition, complete box looks like $600, something like that. This is maybe in the future, so much viable. So that’s why, I don’t know, but you know, very honest thing is, you know, she translated about sorry for my embarrassment, people.

Michael Darling:

So what you’re seeing here are some progress images of this brand new sculpture that’s debuting upstairs also in the exhibition, which was really exciting when Takashi came to visit in April. This existed only as an idea in his head, and since then, he set forth to make this with his team, ship it to the US, display it here at the MCA. So we were really thrilled by the energy you brought to that project. But maybe just one concluding question before we open it up to questions from the audience. Now that you’ve made this big push to do this show here in Chicago and you’ve overcome these huge challenges like making this huge sculpture in record time and this huge painting, what is your next big challenge? What’s the next big project you’re really excited about?

Takashi Murakami:

Now talking about this thing or the next thing? Okay, so I want to talk about what why – okay. So because, like you know, this show is very nice curating show. First room is super embarrassing room, like my college stupid painting and sculptures, and second room is good, kind of start to what contemporary artist looks like.

Third room is – it’s okay. Like mushroom big painting, and it’s step by step. Michael Darling was good job. But this is your show, this is not my show still, so that is my frustration. How can I do? So that is over your head, I have to making. So then I never asking you, I created this thing, and then you know, I have no question for you. And you agreed sitting for this piece is great, but you know. I want kind of the – you know, my side. I got, how can I say – I don’t know –

Michael Darling:

Make it your own.

Takashi Murakami:

Yeah, so that’s why I am making for – this is painting show I understand, but painting and sculpture is final room is kind of my attitude.

Michael Darling:

Well we’re thrilled that you’ve come to work with us here, so thank you, Takashi.

Takashi Murakami:

Thank you.

Michael Darling:

So we definitely have time for questions.

We have some microphone runners that’ll be going up and down either side, so if you have a question, please wait for the microphone to be passed to you, and we’ll be glad to call on you. Do we have a first one here?

Audience Member:

Hi, I actually don’t have a question, but after what you just said, I wanted to thank you because you’re so humble and you’re so incredible, and we love your art. You’re huge here. So we’re really grateful that you came, and thank you.

Audience Member:

Yes, thank you very much for coming. Everything is amazing, and this is truly an incredible experience, so thank you very much. In a lot of your art, you have these skulls, and then you have the flowers. Can you talk about how you came up with the two of them and what they mean as they continue to reoccur throughout your art?

Yuko Bartless:

So for my own experience, I’ve had two important artistic experience. One is, of course, I went to art university, so first, I learned how to realistically and realistically draw apples and do it well, and then you start to find your own style and develop as an artist. But before that, the other art experience I had was when I was little, I went to an exhibition in Tokyo of Goya, and I was taken to a show, and I only later realized this, but I was really shocked by the work I saw. These demons eating his own children or the Naked Maja and Clothed Maja. I thought, “Oh, art is something erotic and gruesome.”

So that was the impression.

That’s something stuck with me.

Then at one point, I started thinking there should be art addressing children, something that is easy to understand for children. So then I experimented with the colorful, and I thought if there’s a skull, you kind of easily think about death. But then without making it dark, I would make it fun. Also colorful. So I just – in making these works, I want the children who see these work to later on wonder about what that was. I think that’s what’s important. So I am constantly making works that are addressing children. So especially skulls and flowers are often messages to children.

Audience Member:

Hi. I’ve noticed you’ve taken a strong interest in synthesizing your works with fashion, even the beautiful thing that you have on today, the suit. And I was wondering, can you talk a little bit more about what that’s done for your career and if you are planning on doing anything else in that nature, in that realm, in the future similar to what you’ve done with Louis Vuitton and Vans? That’s the first part. The second part is I actually have a Van here today, and if you could sign it for me, I don’t know.

Takashi Murakami:

I was shocking – okay, so this is a little bit long story. I was shocking the collaboration with Supreme who is Louis Vuitton staff because this is street fashion versus high fashion. So that is kind of the next breakthrough after our like Louis Vuitton collaboration with artists and project. And also Gucci, so making really freedom feeling. I forgot the name, the new designer, he’s [does] a really nice job.

Looks like – oh, yeah. Michele?

Yeah, he’s really nice.

I’m very fit with his feeling.

So – because he pick up the images in the whole of the world, like you know, really funny translation. So that means that you know, people believe high and low, the label of the culture. But right now is melting for everything. We [have] understanding for a long time this is a melting situation.

But in fact, when I see that the Louis Vuitton show in Supreme, this is shocking. Like lead color and Louis Vuitton logo more than strongly to the Supreme. So that is breakthrough, like how good marriage with street fashion and high fashion.

But our world is the same. Because I have experience in last year in Complexcon. So like Complex Media was invited to this convention. So this convention having mostly the street fashion design thing, and also the music, the hip-hop and the techno, something like that.

But I am not –

I was wondering, So why they invite me because I am artist? I am not fashion people. Kind of really automatic artist. But in fact, I came to this convention. There are many kids buying my material and buying the sneakers and the jeans and kind of street fashion. Looks like kind of the fashion industry is shrinking.

This is – everybody say – but in fact, in Complexcon spend a lot of money for kids. So completely new art, and completely my new audience. So then audience, the kids, find out me – “Oh hey, Takashi!"

So what you know? I couldn’t understand why. So but exactly, this is my new audience because this is not gallery, this is not museum, but they bought my materials, and it looks like really different feeling. So that means I think art, fashion, street, and high fashion is – everything is mixing, much more concrete.

So that is now the situation, and also the –

like you know, kind of the internet communication generation people.

That means that – can say it’s super flat, level, the hierarchy.

Who is stronger is many followers. No rich people, no famous people because my follower is –

it’s good number, but you know, cannot compare with hip-hop artists. This is – can say same label. Right?

So I have a – how many people?

Like 300,000 people or something like that, but you know, like medium follower for the people is great.

So kind of that situation. High art is what? Like you know? Like street art is what?

So that is big questions. So then I want to go into the new art exactly, you know, this is museum show is new art.

But because, like you never come to the museum. So museum is castle. Museum is church.

But now is entertainment place also. So that means that everything is melting.

So I want to go in -

I don’t know what is the future, but I want involvement.

I want to go into that new world.

So that is – make sense? Something like that.

Thank you.

Audience Member:

Mr. Murakami, you and Jeff Koons have something in common, I think.

I think you’re recognized that there is an avid immersion in the commercialization in what we call immersion in consumerism in the world today, and I think both of you have sort of addressed this concern that many artists have seen in the world, but I think Mr. Jeff Koons sort of looks at it in a different way in the sense that he seems to enjoy the baseness of commercialization, and he seems to enjoy it in a certain way.

And I feel that you have addressed the concern, but I keep feeling there is a certain kind of – you have sort of seen it in a – you are diametrically opposed to it in some ways, and there is a darkness in the way that you address commercialization.

I may be wrong entirely.

I think there is a joyfulness in your work, but is there a darkness in it?

Do you have a – is there any satire in what you talk about?

Is there any tongue in cheek – another layer to what you’re talking about?

Is there something else that we’ve missed beyond what you talk about in terms of the playfulness of it?

Or is it just to be taken as something pretty and joyful and childish and playful?

Takashi Murakami:

I’m sorry, that really long. But this is a good point of view, that’s why. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Yuko.

Yuko Bartless:

Let me see if I can do this.

So recently at the Cannes Film Festival, a film that was sponsored by Netflix won an award, and there was a huge controversy, people were outraged, and some people were saying from next year on films that haven’t had a run in the theater cannot be eligible.

But – so there’s been outrage.

But people who have certain type of sense, like J. J. Abrams and other directors, are making their films using the money from Netflix and Hulu and those type of services. So then you start thinking about what is film, how do you define it? And of course a festival like Cannes are in a way protective of the conventional structure of film being shown in a theater.

So that’s one thing.

And then when you think about art in the same way, now there are museums you can go to, and the kind of talk shows and conferences where you can sit down and talk seriously about artwork, but I think it’s a very interesting example of Dan Flavin show in the very early time of Museum of Contemporary Art here where they showed Dan Flavin and no one understood it and no one appreciated. So there wasn’t this kind of institution available before.

And when you think about what art is, it’s something ever changing, and it’s very living and breathing. To see an art means you’re seeing how an artist breathes those things in and then back out to you. So then you start talking about the business and the money and commercialization and stuff like that in whether it’s bad.

When you get into that kind of discussion – if

– but an artist wants to make something big and different and interesting, and you need money, and then there are people who would think similarly and actually invest in you.

So at a Cannes Film Festival when they say this is not a film, some director would say, "Oh no, that’s a bad thing." And then some people think that’s fine. So I’m the kind that feels that’s fine, and I want to take on many new challenges together with the investors who believe in me. I think Jeff Koons is the same way. He’s doing a lot of charity works and things like that. I think he really wants to spread the kind of art that he does—something really out there and doesn’t follow rules. So he really earnestly wants to spread that kind of art.

I think he’s very earnest and serious artist.

And then when – so it’s – when you ask questions about where the market is good or bad, that kind of question – it’s hard to answer, but if you think about the reason why some of the artists like myself are surviving in our careers in market, I think we’re making works that would make you, the audience who are here, believe in them, are people who would invest in my work believe in them. So you know, the background backyard type of deals you could maybe enjoy it like a gossip of sports, athletes being traded, and stuff like that, but it’s a little bit something necessary and a little bit different.

Michael Darling:

I think we have time for one more question. This gentleman here has been very patient. If we could get him a microphone.

Audience Member:

I want to say thank you, again, for coming. I’ve been a fan of your work for a while. In times when I was in school and I saw Mr. DOB in art history books, just being really curious about the work, so thank you.

This – the new piece is really sticking with me. I haven’t seen you do anything like this and embrace street culture or street art in this way, and I’m really fascinated about the process.

Was it a collaboration between you and other artists? And I think it’s just the figure to me is just really interesting. I just want you to talk about that a little more and kind of go in on that.

Takashi Murakami:

Yes, honestly, I’m missing a way in the future. My company is kind of everyday mess. Like you know, money condition is bad. I have to asking [at the] bank, "Can I get few money?" “No.”

Looks like kind of stupid type of B-movie stuff. This is my life. It – yeah, like you’re laughing, but this is true stuff. And also the bongo is same thing. Like a monk is same thing. Kind of the life, the artist life is stupid.

So and also, the – you know, I cannot watch into my future.

But I told you about Complexcon – the shock was huge, huge. This is okay, so I can thriving for this world, so why? I don’t know, but this is a success. And then you know, I’ve been long time to – love to watching to the streets, you know, art. Not the kind of establishments and stuff, looks like that tag, looks like really, I don’t know.

I bought a lot of magazine, and I checking for a lot of artists information, and I meet with, you know, Japanese-American artist. He is Japanese, but kind of lives in US a long time. So that guy is very close to my feeling, like complex.

You know, having big stress in Japan, big stress in US because he cannot fit with both culture. Then he making for the tagging. When I see his show in small gallery, I was really get a nice feeling because, oh my God, he has a kind of mental ill, like very negative something, but his face is smiling.

This is same way, I use for the smiling faces.

My smiling faces is not smiling. So but you know, I’m sorry audience, everybody said, “Thank you Takashi, give me the many happiness.” But this is – I’m smiling, “Thank you,” but this is not. The smiling is kind of bleh I don’t know, like just you know, I don’t know in English can say how to smiling.

Like this is worst case. Right?

So I cannot watching to the future, that’s why I want to collaborate [with] these guys, and also this piece is super successful for me.

But for the art critic or like the art director or like curator, I don’t know how - is that Takashi’s piece, is that just collaboration, is it just learned from street art? I don’t know, but this is like I’m breathing right now. I made this piece. So that’s why I have to make this piece.

This is really my honest mood right now.

So but you know, I don’t know. So what is that. But this is a really great, great thing. So this show was, you know, many turning point piece was not, you know, first time to came from me is not conceptual. Cannot understand, looks like kind of like freaking out.

And then I design for the pencil and paint, and kind of like mix mess.

I am still going to that kind of chaotic situation. That is this piece.

That make sense?

Audience Member:

Yeah, thank you.

Michael Darling:

Thank you Takashi, again.

Thank you Yuko for your wonderful translation.