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Takashi Murakami: Tan Tan Bo aka Gerotan

The top six pieces to see at Takashi Murakami’s Change the Rule exhibition

From his signature and easily recognisable flowers to Doraemon tribute artworks, don’t miss these eye-catching pieces

Written by
Olivia Lai
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Renowned for successfully blurring the lines between high art and commercial work, winning fans in both the fine art scene and the street art crowd as a result, Takashi Murakami has managed what many artists struggle to do – to be accessible and win acclaim.

Hosting his first solo exhibition in Hong Kong in eight years, the eccentric Japanese artist is debuting new paintings and sculptures – many of which feature Murakami’s original characters presented in new contexts – his signature flowers, as well as showcasing his fascination and unique take on classical Japanese paintings. The works are on display at the Gagosian Gallery from now until November 10. Here’s just a taste of some of the exciting things to look forward to. 

Top six pieces to see at Takashi Murakami’s exhibition

Celestial Flowers (2018)

Celestial Flowers (2018)

The flower is arguably Murakami’s most recognisable motif – you know, the ones with rainbow-coloured petals and a smiley face in the pistil – so it’s no surprise a section of the exhibition is dedicated to these works. This particular artwork utilises strong neon colours rather than Murakami’s usual bright hues and is painted on platinum leaf, which creates an interesting texture akin to stained glass. 

Doraemon in the Field of Flowers (2018)

Doraemon in the Field of Flowers (2018)

In a special collaboration with Doraemon – having been invited to participate in Doraemon Exhibitions group shows in Japan –  Murakami has created several new works featuring the famous TV character. Three are painted within the outline of the time-travelling robot and are filled with familiar faces from the anime and clusters of Murakami’s signature flowers. 

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Kiki from Kaikai Kiki (2018)

Kiki from Kaikai Kiki (2018)

If you’re familiar with Murakami’s work, you should know that his studio, Kaikai Kiki, is named after two of his most beloved characters, Kaikai and Kiki. Often shown together as a pair, Kiki is depicted in a pink onesie-type outfit, bearing her fangs and showing off her third eye. Brought to life in sculpture, this life-sized piece gives viewers a chance to meet the popular character up close. 

Tan Tan Bo aka Gerotan (2018)

Tan Tan Bo aka Gerotan (2018)

In classic Murakami fashion, the full title of this visceral mural-sized painting is Tan Tan Bo aka Gerotan: Having vomited five viscera and six bowels along with a lump of ego, he swallows them back into his empty stomach as everything disperses in the void; along the process he starts his journey into meditation. Featuring another of Murakami’s recurring original characters, Mr DOB, the piece depicts his figure melting and exploding into countless permutations of himself, a reflection of Murakami’s fear of mental suffering during the process of ageing. 

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The Lion of the Kingdom that transcends Death (2018)
©2018 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. Courtesy Gagosian

The Lion of the Kingdom that transcends Death (2018)

Although Murakami might be famous for his anime-influenced artwork, his repertoire, in fact, expands far beyond it. Perfectly encapsulating Murakami’s fascination with classical Japanese themes and Shinto imagery, this mural exemplifies the artist’s unique characters, colour schemes and traditional techniques. 

He-he-he (DOB) (2018)

He-he-he (DOB) (2018)

Another striking sculpture from Murakami’s Mr DOB collection, look up towards the ceiling to see the character grinning –manically or genuinely, whatever is your interpretation – down towards the viewer. The angle at which the artwork hangs encourages a unique and almost sinister interaction between the sculpture and the viewer.

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