Takashi Murakami's New Culver City Show Includes Monks, Skulls, Flowers, Manga Characters and More

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Mon, Apr 15, 2013 at 12:13 PM

click to enlarge "Arhat" by Takashi Murakami opens at Blum & Poe - PHOTO: LIZ OHANESIAN ALL ART: ©2013 TAKASHI MURAKAMI/KAIKAI KIKI CO., LTD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
  • Photo: Liz Ohanesian All art: ©2013 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
  • "Arhat" by Takashi Murakami opens at Blum & Poe
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Takashi Murakami is no stranger to Los Angeles. Just last week, his first feature film, Jellyfish Eyes, premiered at LACMA. Back in 2008, the traveling show "© Murakami" landed at MOCA -- the largest and most-hyped of his numerous shows in L.A.

He's certainly a familiar figure at Blum & Poe. Saturday night saw the opening of "Arhat," the famed Japanese artist's sixth solo show at the Culver City gallery.

As recognizable as Murakami is, there is still a sense of mystery evident when entering the show. Part of that is by design. Once you walk inside Blum & Poe, you have to head down a stark white corridor that seems longer than it might actually be. It can be a lonely trek. On Saturday night, I thought I had wandered into the wrong building. The walls were empty, the hallway was largely free of people. All that changed when I hit the first of four rooms that housed the collection.

  • Photo: Liz Ohanesian All art: ©2013 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

The first subgallery was teeming with people. There were the young people who looked like they stepped out of a street fashion blog, all brightly colored hair and unexpected clothing choices. There were the well-heeled Angelenos who appeared as though they knew this gallery world inside-out. There were even a few small children staring at pieces much bigger than even the grown-ups surrounding them.

The paintings in this first room are grand -- a single work nearly fills a large wall. A statue, Flame of Desire -- Gold, stands at over 15 feet. Size is the first thing that catches the eye, but it's the detail of these mammoth pieces that kept onlookers staring. It portrays monks who are withering with time, but their hunched frames still loomed over the crowd. They are as reminiscent of tradition as they are walking into a bold present. Zoom in on a portion of these paintings and you'll see fleck of glitter floating around one character's head. You'll notice the polka dots and other design intricacies that lay behind the scene.

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