Takashi Murakami Celebrates Birthday in YVR Style

Takashi Murakami Celebrates Birthday in YVR Style

Celebrating his 56th birthday in Vancouver, international Japanese artist Takashi Murakami had a vibrant day filled with media events and festivity.

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An early morning at the Vancouver Art Gallery saw a brightly robed Murakami presenting the The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg exhibition of over 55 impressive paintings and sculptures, to a packed room.

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The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg highlights Takashi Murakami’s dedication to exquisite craftsmanship as well as his boundless imagination moving freely within an ever-expanding field of aesthetic decisions and cultural inspiration, from Buddhist folk traditions to art history to popular culture,” says Bruce Grenville, senior curator. “This wide-ranging exhibition offers a serious engagement on issues affecting Japan and the larger world today, from media culture to globalization to the threats of nuclear power.”

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Councillor Andrea Reimer presented Murakami with an official proclamation from Mayor Gregor Robinson that February 1st will be known as ‘Takashi Murakami Day’ in Vancouver.  A humour laden Q & A followed by a tour of the gallery with the adorable Taco7 character.

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The exhibition offers an in-depth survey of the evolution of Murakami’s paintings from the 1980s to the present, while highlighting the artist’s role as a committed and often conflicted cultural commentator. Spanning three decades from his earliest mature work to his recent large-scale creations, this extraordinary exhibition will include a recently produced five-metre tall sculpture and two specially created multi-panel paintings.

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Murakami has created a new major public art project featuring a skull surrounded by octopus tentacles which will cover the Gallery’s Georgia Street façade, extending the exhibition outside the traditional confines of the Gallery space.

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We are delighted to offer Canadian audiences the opportunity to experience a wide range of paintings and sculptures by one of the world’s most influential and visionary artists,” says Kathleen S. Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Come lunch-time, Market by Jean-Georges entertained a curated group of food bloggers and writers, with a 5-course meal created by Executive Chef Ken Nakano.

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Instameet Luncheon at Market by Jean-Georges | Image by Leila Kwok
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Instameet Luncheon at Market by Jean-Georges | Image by Leila Kwok
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Instameet Luncheon at Market by Jean-Georges | Image by Leila Kwok

The courses entitled ‘Lotus Flower’ was paired with Osake Junmai Sparking Sake, ‘Zuzazazazaza’ with a Japanese Highball, ‘Octopus Eats Its Own Leg’ with an Octopus Michelada, ‘Enso’ with Ventisquero Grey Glacier Single Block Caberet Sauvignon, and ‘Flower Ball’ dessert with Sunflower Sour.

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Instameet Luncheon at Market by Jean-Georges | Image by Leila Kwok

“Murakami’s work is ambitious and intricate, filled with boundless imagination, bold colours, and a dedication to exquisite craftsmanship, not unlike the culinary world,” Ken Nakano, executive chef at Market, said in a press statement. “We wanted to create a bridge between his stunning artwork and the plate, and hope guests enjoy our flavour interpretations of his artwork.”

The Murakami-inspired tasting menu will be offered daily from February 5th to 28th.

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Kathleen Bartels, Director of Vancouver Art Gallery | Image courtesy VAG

The evening event begin at the Vancouver Art Gallery with an exclusive exhibition preview with the artist, followed by a seated dinner at the Commodore Ballroom, and an After Party featuring a special musical performance by Grammy Award-winning DJ Mix Master Mike (Beastie Boys) and the Underground Circus dance group. This sold-out event had a $1,000 ticket price with VIP Tables fetching $25,000. Tickets for just the after party were a cool $350!

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Dinner and After-Party at the historic Commodore Ballroom | Image courtesy VAG

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity brought together Canada’s top art enthusiasts and philanthropists for the benefit of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibitions and public programming.

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Happy Birthday Takeshi on his own day in Vancouver! | Image courtesy VAG

Those who have worked with Takashi Murakami have often said he is a man who rarely sleeps and has been known to bring a sleeping bag to galleries where his exhibitions are being installed. One wonders if Murakami even had time to blow out his candles given the whirlwind 16-hour day that the VAG planned for him!

All uncredited images by Helen Siwak.