Lot 1062
  • 1062

Murakami Takashi

5,200,000 - 6,200,000 HKD
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  • Murakami Takashi
  • Me and Kaikai and Kiki
  • acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas
signed in English and dated 09 on the reverse, framed


Galerie Perrotin, Hong Kong
Acquired by the present owner from the above


Murakami Ego, Skira Rizzoli Publications, New York, USA, 2012, p. 192

Catalogue Note

Superflat, Super Murakami
Murakami Takashi

"People seem to really need a depiction of the artist’s face. Just look at magazines: they always want to put the artist’s face somewhere. That’s why I started making self-portraits. I paint the surface of things. My ego is pure surface. That’s my self-portrait." –Murakami Takashi1

Me and Kaikai and Kiki (2009) (Lot 1062) comes from Murakami Takashi’s debut self-portrait series. In 2009 the Japanese superstar artist included images of himself in his work for the very first time, unveiling a spirited set of his trademark psychedelic paintings and sculptures in gold, silver, bronze and carbon that feature cartoon versions of himself. Other works in the series pay overt homage to Andy Warhol, referencing the 1960s pop art legend in their use of gold or platinum backgrounds and also directly by title. In the current lot, Murakami’s cartoonised head floats alongside the comical features of Kaikai and Kiki, two of the most recognizable anime characters from his brand: grinning widely, open-mouthed in joyful abandon, the three heads hover amidst a brilliant field of Murakami’s signature smiling chrysanthemums.

A household name in Japan and beyond, Murakami Takashi has successfully penetrated the enclosed worlds of traditional Japanese fine art and contemporary art with spectacular success. Throughout his career he has constructed a distinctive artistic practice that not only integrates high art and consumer culture but which independently operates both within and outside the cusp of both worlds. During his doctorate at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music in 1989, Murakami received solid training in Nihonga, a traditional style of Japanese painting, and in his works the artist often borrows from traditional Japanese compositional and material techniques. Examples include what he calls Hokusai’s “zooming in” method, as well as the “aggressiveness” he believes to come from the Japanese Momoyama period.

Notwithstanding this deep-rooted foundation in tradition, Murakami’s entire practice can be conceived as an extremely modern form of Gesamtkunstwerk through the multi-faceted operations of his company, Kaikai Kiki. The name Kaikai Kiki is based on the terms “supernatural and bizarre”, a phrase used to describe the work of eccentric Edo period painters, such as Kanô Eitoku. In line with the name of his company Murakami created two anime characters, Kaikai and Kiki, who are featured together with the artist in the current lot. The characters Kaikai and Kiki are based upon Oval, another of Murakami’s characters. Oval was inspired by the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty, the Hyakume cartoon monster with a thousand eyes, as well as the image of the Buddha. “With these three characters—Oval, Kaikai and Kiki,” Murakami stated, “I wanted, I think, to create my own ‘gods of art’.”

With its centrally placed characters, the current lot displays Murakami’s ground-breaking Superflat aesthetics to its full dizzying and disorienting effect. Conceptually, Murakami’s Superflat vision achieves not only the flattening of high and low art but also a crucial linkage between art and everyday life; aesthetically, Superflat is Murakami’s contemporary rendition of a Nihonga-inspired optical illusion, whereby objects positioned at varying distances from the viewer are all compressed into one dimension. Foregoing the need for depth or scale, Superflat combines the flatness of commercial graphic design with high aesthetics, kick starting in a wide sweeping movement in Japanese contemporary art. The artist declared decisively in his Superflat manifesto: “Super flatness is an original concept of the Japanese, who have been completely Westernized."2 

Crucial to Murakami’s Superflat lexicon and his entire artistic enterprise are his ubiquitous smiling flowers: first appearing on small-scaled canvases in 1995, the artist’s trademark flower motif has since expanded into a dizzying array of media and contexts, from museums to films to Louis Vuitton handbags. Bridging high art and mass culture and the traditional and the contemporary on an unprecedented scale, Murakami’s legendary oeuvre opened up a new critical perspective and carved out a unique niche within the international contemporary art world.

Murakami Ego, Skira Rizzoli Publications, New York, 2012, pg. 4.

2 The artist cited in Murakami Takashi, Superflat Trilogy, Tokyo 2000, p. 15