Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg


Miguel Casimiro

“And Then, And Then , And Then, and Then, and Then” (Red), 1996. A series of paintings with similar compositions phased out through time. Murakami names this face “MR. DOB.”

Miguel Casimiro, Online Editor

An otherworldly experience awaits Museum of Contemporary Art visitors in a summer exhibition called “Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg.” Enter the world of Takashi Murakami, a place where the happiness and pain of his life are explored through his art. The exhibit demonstrates the striking evolution of Murakami’s art over the last three decades.

Murakami was born in Tokyo, Japan. From a very young age, he was a fan of manga, a Japanese style of art that mirrors cartoon shows and comics in the United States. In 1993, he received his Ph.D from Tokyo University of Arts in Nihonga: the study of traditional art technique.

After he received his degree, Murakami debuted a piece called “Time Bokan,” one of his first works that dealt with nuclear war and its impact on society in World War II.

The “Time Bokan” is a huge image of a cloud-like mushroom depicting a skull. The inspiration for this art piece is a tribute to both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the catalog “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg,” Murakami describes the aftermath of the bombing and how he started to question society’s responsibility for what happened. These events continued to inspire his work through various stages of his life.

Murakami’s next wave of art, Mr. DOB, was the creation of an alter ego. Created in the figurative image of Murakami, Mr. DOB is a cross creation between two popular characters in Japan and the centerpiece of Murakami’s new works.

One of these characters was Doraemon, a famous manga character, and the other was Sonic the Hedgehog, a famous video character brought to life by Sega video games. Mr. DOB gave way for Murakami to express himself through this character and one of his first pieces that became recognized internationally.

At the Museum of Contemporary Art, “The Octopuses Eats Its Own Leg” exhibition is being displayed, demonstrating Murakami’s works from the beginning to the current period.

Several visitors have described the exhibit to be “out of this world.”

Museum visitor Camilla Rivera said, “I feel good. I can go outside and eat the world right now just because the images are empowering.”

Another patron, Yumiko Mannarelli, said she “really like(s) the cherry blossoms. In the explanation, he took the styles of Jackson Pollock and used the style to transform a traditional Japanese silk painting, screen painting. I am Japanese and I like that.”

Murakami’s work does give a sense of how the imagination and pain of life can be captured through one’s art.  I would recommend this exhibit because it makes you step outside the boundaries of art and welcomes you into the view of how the artists’ expressions are placed on the canvas.

This exhibit is being held at the Museum of Contemporary Art through September 24.