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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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!
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.
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.