© 2018 TAKASHI MURAKAMI / KAIKAIKIKI CO. LTD.
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.
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