In Brief

Takashi Murakami Opens Up About the Pressure of Being a High-Profile Artist

The artist spoke candidly about the emotional, financial, and artistic strain he experiences.

Takashi Murakami, “The Lion of the Kingdom that Transcends Death” (2018), Acrylic on canvas mounted on aluminum frame, 59 1/8 × 118 1/8 inches, © 2018 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All rights reserved (image via Gagosian Hong Kong press release)

Takashi Murakami has opened up about the immense pressure he feels as an artist following his show at the Gagosian Hong Kong, which opened devoid of a massive sculpture he had intended to finish for the September 20th opening.

The entryway of one of his biggest shows yet, Change the Rule! at the Gagosian Hong Kong, hosts a small, painted sign in the absent sculpture’s place that reads: “Right at this moment, as I write this text on this painting … I feel like crying for help.”

The Japanese contemporary artist’s star has been rising even higher in recent years. Though a renowned artist for over a decade, his work is becoming increasingly well known in the mainstream, having over a half-dozen shows in the past 18 months. Earlier this year, his show The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago reigned in record-breaking numbers at the museum, becoming the most visited show in its history.

Probing his success, Murakami told the South China Morning Post, “When I first started making merchandise, one of the things I was imagining was this kind of audience — very materialistic. That was 20 years ago. So I was creating the works and that kind of audience didn’t exist yet. And now they are the real audience!”

Regardless of his seemingly astronomical accomplishments, he admitted, “I can get the big project, big money, but every month I’m … kind of choking.”

Murakami adds, “I want to go to my past. When I was young, when I was 20. I’m still living a dream then. That is a great thing.” But now, the artist confessed sadly, “No dream. Reality.”

Takashi Murakami: Change the Rule! is on view at the Gagosian Hong Kong through November 10, 2018.

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