Lot 136
  • 136

Murakami Takashi

2,500,000 - 3,500,000 HKD
1,750,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Murakami Takashi
  • acrylic on canvas
  • 141.5 by 120 cm; 55¾ by 47¼ in.
signed in English and dated 2014.OCT.30 on the overlap of canvas


Gagosian Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above


Catalogue Note

One of the most acclaimed artists to have emerged from postwar Asia, Murakami Takashi is celebrated for his era-defining oeuvre that merged contemporary pop culture with fine art. First introducing his revolutionary “Superflat” philosophy in the 1990s, Murakami’s works draw on everything from anime and manga to Buddhist forms and iconography to Pop and Abstract Expressionism, while his highly organized production methods fused art and commercial enterprise in a way that took Andy Warhol’s vision to a new level. While trained in the Japanese art of Nihonga, a highly regimented and traditional form of art, Murakami’s wholly unique and contemporary aesthetic moves seamlessly amongst diverse roles as artist, producer, theorist, curator, designer, businessman and celebrity, rendering him an unprecedented phenomenon in the global cultural scene. With his numerous collaborations with luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Murakami’s hybridized art not only put Japanese pop culture onto the global map of contemporary art but uses it to reference and embody the overwhelming phenomenon of cultural collisions occurring all over the world.

Executed in 2014, HOLLOW epitomizes the full depth and complexity of Murakami’s extraordinarily multifaceted corpus. Featuring the word “HOLLOW” spray-painted on top of a completed painting, the work belongs to – and indeed, originated – a highly distinctive series of paintings which Murakami called the Ensō or ‘circle’ series. The Ensō in Japanese Zen Buddhism symbolizes emptiness, unity and infinity; in the series, Murakami reinterprets the single fluid brush stroke with spray paint in a variety of works, either overlaid across a background of his signature smiling flowers or embossed monochrome backgrounds of skulls. The series is significant because it constitutes something of a personal epiphany for Murakami, developed from ongoing spiritual practice; while artistically, the idiosyncratic style was inspired by the first painting of the series, i.e. HOLLOW. Aside from circles and the word “HOLLOW”, the series also features works with the word “DEATH” spray-painted over the artist’s unique visual vocabulary. The distinctive series constitutes a tongue-in-cheek philosophical meditation on spiritual themes; at the same time, these works represent Murakami’s satirical view of the art world. In the artist’s own words: “[Entering the art world is] like going into the hollow, there’s only a shape, only a frame, and then inside it’s hollow” (the artist quoted in “Interview: Takashi Murakami Discusses His New Death-Themed Art Exhibition and His Film Trilogy “Jellyfish Eyes””, complex.com, 12 November 2014). Combining complex spiritual and traditional themes with social commentary as well as his trademark maverick and mischievous sense of humour, the present painting reveals the superstar artist at the height of his powers and encapsulates the very best of his ubiquitous oeuvre.