Murakami: In the Land of the Dead…

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On the surface, Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami’s work might seem bright and cheery, but a deeper dig surfaces quite the opposite. Murakami’s current exhibition, In the Land Of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of A Rainbow, at the Gagosian Gallery in New York City, takes a turn to the dark side as a response to the Great Tohoku Earthquake of 2011. The natural disaster took approximately 16,000 lives, prompting Murakami to explore art in response to natural disasters. What he found in his imagination was a need for a contemporary spiritual system, a merging of earlier faiths, myths, and images. In his exhibition, totemic sculptures representing demons, religious sites, self-portraits, science fiction, manga, plus Buddhist and Shinto imagery, serve as a dialogue to coping with the trauma of disaster.