Exaggerated Eroticism of Superflat Creator Takashi Murakami
Takashi Murakami (1962), creator of the Superflat movement*, is internationally known for the sculptures My Lonesome Cowboy (Fig.1) and Hiropon (Fig.2). These are the result of the meeting of heterogeneous elements and refer to the otaku** and hentai cultures. It is interesting to see the fluidity with which Japanese erotic fantasy moves from shunga to hentai culture.
Fig.1. ‘The Lonesome Cowboy ‘ (1998)
In the Edo period, the most striking feature of erotic art was the uninhibited reproduction of genitalia (including hair), not only faithfully represented but also enlarged beyond all proportion; with the subsequent censorship, the ban on depicting sexual organs shifted attention to substitute elements, such as tentacles, or secondary elements such as female breasts and bodily fluids, which were also hypertrophic (gigantism).
Fig.2. ‘Hiropon ‘ (1997)
Semen and a Lasso
In Murakami's sculptures, the exaggeration almost strips the figure of all eroticism, and the fluids become veritable appendages of the bodies, like human tentacles. The nature of the tentacle, its capacity to extend and invade without control, becomes a fundamental element of the new eroticism, which does not allow itself to be enclosed but instead becomes fluid and exploits all the possibilities of erotic fantasy.
My Lonesome Cowboy (1998), which recalls (in the title and the similarity between semen and a lasso) Andy Warhol's Lonesome Cowboy (1968), depicting a spiky-haired superhero-type emitting a lasso of creamy white from his erect penis, a satire of the Western film genre, is in turn a critique of Japanese consumerist culture in the post-war American occupation period.
In contrast, the female sculpture, Hiropon (a Japanese term for 'amphetamine'), a blue-haired girl with humongous breasts that stream a loop of milk, alludes to the illegal aspects of otaku culture.
Fig.3. '3 Meter Girl ' (2011)
Fig.4. 'Rear end of 3 Meter Girl ' (2011)
Sources: wikipedia.org, gagosian.com, twitter.com, pinterest.com,
*Superflat movement is a postmodern art movement, founded by the artist Takashi Murakami, which is influenced by manga and anime. However, superflat doesn't have an explicit definition because Takashi Murakami does not want to limit the movement, but rather leave room for it to grow and evolve over time.
**otaku is a Japanese slang word roughly meaning “geek” or “nerd,” and though it has been imported into English-speaking cultures, it still maintains these Japanese connections.
A headline of an article in the British newspaper The Times read 'Is Takashi Murakami’s work art or porn?" What do you think? Leave your reaction in the comment box below....!!