‘I think the Japanese male sexual complex originated in the two-dimensional world –animation, games and so on – which then transferred to small three-dimensional sculptures. But before my sculptures Miss Ko (1997) and My Lonesome Cowboy (1998), it had never been represented life-size.’
– – – Takashi Murakami
big box pko2, 2011 – – Takashi Murakami
Recently I visited the Gagosian Gallery near Kings Cross to see the Takashi Murakami exhibition that is currently being hosted there.
Murakami is an artist I knew little about, but as you walk in to the gallery (6-24 Britannia Street: ground floor level, one single large room, white walls, high ceiling) you soon get an idea.
A giant manga sculpture greets you; a blonde girl in a maid’s outfit with exaggerated hair and huge, ponderous breasts. Another model stands a little to the right of that, a smaller, thinner girl, again manga, heavily sexualised. Other sculptures include a giant gold penis (the penis has a smiley face at the top) and equally giant silver vagina, as well as a 2D made 3D box shaped girl (pictured above).
As the press release states, this is a man playing with the ‘enduring obsession with sexuality in contemporary human society’.
Along with the sculptures there are manga re-imaginations of Kuroda Seiki’s famous triptych, Wisdom, Impression, Sentiment hung on the walls of the gallery (Seiki’s work also hangs here, though I didn’t know enough about the exhibit before hand to think to check if it was a copy by Murakami or the real deal). With their smooth anatomies and perfectly rendered skin the manga offspring give off an unnatural and slightly plastic aura and, of the paintings displayed, it was the original work that drew my attention repeatedly, with Seiki’s artwork, itself controversial in its own time, more interesting than the copies.
There were also at least four security guards in the gallery when I went. They stood dressed all in black and spaced equidistantly out across the room, and their presence seemed to give off a sense of foreboding. Possibly they were only there because of the sexual nature of the objects – preventing adolescent manga fans from running amok maybe – or possibly it was just the mood I was in, but I’d like to think that there was design in their employment, a further suggestion that the encroaching sexualisation of manga/animation is something that needs guarding against and protection from.