Friday, April 30, 2010

Arty Farty Friday ~ Takashi Murakami, Super-Aquarian

When words such as anime, manga and okatu passed before my eyes I read through them, assuming I could grasp their meaning from context. Before launching this post I checked my guesswork. Okatu is, in western terms fandom, fan culture; often in Japan its focus is anime, the peculiarly Japanese style of animation peopled by cute, big eyed characters enmeshed in all manner of fantasy adventures. Manga is the print version of these animated stories -in the west we'd call them comics or graphic novels. I needed to be clear about these terms before investigating the art and astrology of a contemporary Japanese artist: Takashi Murakami. This Tokyo-born guy is part artist part very astute businessman. He set out to study traditional-style art but soon began to see it as "irrelevant to Japanese life".

There's an excellent 2003 article by Jeff Howe: The Two Faces of Takashi Murakami ~ He's high art. He's low culture. He's a one-man mass-market machine. These are extracts:
Takashi Murakami is often billed as the next Andy Warhol. Like the American pop art icon, he fuses high and low, pulling imagery from consumer culture to produce visually arresting, highly original work. He is vigorously, ingeniously self-promotional. In the past few years, Murakami has swept across the US and Europe, receiving fawning media attention and exhibiting at big-name museums. Just shy of 42, the charismatic artist even lives and works in what he calls a factory. How much more Warhol can you get?

But there's a key difference. Warhol took from the low and gave to the high. With ironic detachment, his work - paintings few could afford, films few could understand - appealed to an audience in on the joke. Murakami, on the other hand, takes from the low and gives to the high, the low, and everything in between. He makes paintings, sculptures, videos, T-shirts, key chains, mousepads, plush dolls, cell phone caddies, and, last but not least, $5,000 limited-edition Louis Vuitton handbags. Murakami's work hits all price points..... he plans on selling plastic figurines packaged with bubble gum - a Murakami for $3. Warhol died before a T-shirt company licensed his soup cans and made a bundle. Murakami, who reads Bill Gates for management tips, knows better than to make that mistake......"I set out to investigate the secret of market survivability - the universality of characters such as Mickey Mouse, Sonic the Hedgehog, Doraemon, Miffy, Hello Kitty, and their knock-offs, produced in Hong Kong," Murakami wrote for a 2001 retrospective of his work.

Now, as president of Kaikai Kiki, Murakami presides over an art-making corporation that operates from a campus of buildings known as the Hiropon Factory, outside Tokyo, as well as a studio in Brooklyn. ......... Hardly a reclusive artist toiling in his garret studio, he employs 25 assistants to perform specialized tasks, and he uses technology in pragmatic, labor-saving ways.

Each creation begins as a sketch in one of numerous pocket-sized notebooks. Full-size drawings are then scanned into the computer. From there, Murakami "paints" his works in Adobe Illustrator, tweaking the composition and cycling through thousands of colors until at last he hands the finished versions off to his assistants. His staff then prints out the work on paper, silk-screens the outline onto canvas, and commences painting. Without this embrace of technology, Murakami says, "I could have never produced this many works this efficiently, and the work wouldn't be as intense."

The fusion of art and computing led Murakami to a pictorial style that rejects the illusion of depth and perspective. Dubbed superflat, the approach isn't entirely new - Warhol's paintings often read flat - but Murakami has something else in mind. Superflat captures the aesthetics of our technological age: PDAs, digital billboards, flat-screen TVs....... "Superflat also refers to the leveling of distinctions between high and low. Murakami likes to flaunt that he can make a million-dollar sculpture and then take the same subject and crank out a bunch of tchotchkes."

Tsk...had to look up another word "tchotchke": (Yiddish) an inexpensive showy trinket. As I have to keep saying, I live and learn!

Born on 1st February 1962 in Tokyo, Japan. 12 noon chart shown as no time of birth is available. Moon degree and ascending sign will not be accurate.

Here's another of those super-Aquarius folk, born with a big cluster of planets in that sign. Other well-known super-Aquarians are Garth Brooks, Clint Black, Sheryl Crow, Axl Rose and Eddie Izzard. During a few days in February 1962 planets gathered in the sign of Fixed Air, co-ruled by Uranus and Saturn which represent opposite ideals: the status quo = Saturn; the avant garde = Uranus. Both sign rulers were not in Aquarius at the time though. Uranus was in the last degree of Leo, only likely to be reflected as its eccentric self if closely aligned/aspected by one of the Aquarius planets or other personal point. Otherwise, traditional Aquarius traits of mental acuity, logical thought and social awareness would likely dominate, though tempered by rising sign, and Moon sign and degree.

In the case of Takashi Murakami Sun and Venus (the arty planet) are conjoined and flanked by Mars in Capricorn, the stray from the Aquarius cluster, in the sign of business. That's a nicely apt astrological signature for this artist who has used his art in tandem with sharp business acumen to bring sucess.

The Aquarius trait I see in this artist that particularly appeals to me (I have a lone Sun and re-located ascendant in Aquarius) is his aim to pull together the "high" and "low" - putting art into everyday things for everybody, not only for the elite and attempt to bring about equality. I see that as an Aquarian trait not often mentioned in those terms. He doesn't leave out the wealthy completely though, he caters for them too: see his designs for Vuitton.

Natal Moon would have been in Sagittarius whatever his time of birth, and very likely in harmonious sextile to some of the Aquarius planets. Moon in Sagittarius translates as someone with wide horizons, big, generous ideas and ideals and an optimistic outlook. That seems to fit what we can know of Takashi Murakami.

Louis Vuitton 5th Ave. Store Design by Takashi Murakami

No comments: