Willie Burton


The Hype of Takashi Murakami

"The hype is real"  

The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg is currently on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The exhibition serves as an exploration through the chaotic mind and process of Murakami. An artist you either love or hate. His artistry checks the boxes of both visually and conceptual strong but his commercial work seems to have his artistry questioned by "art purest".


I walked into this exhibition as a causal fan of Murakami. I've always enjoyed his bright anime style, corky personality, and commercial work; especially the direction he did for KanYe West. So as I walked up the spiral stairs to the 4th floor where the exhibition is held, the only thing on my mind was, "is the hype truly real?". I've never seen any of Murakami's work in person and was excited for the opportunity to "judge" it for myself. The experience of viewing a piece on a 15in screen is different from experiencing its aura in front of you. As soon as I entered the space and walked up to the first piece, I knew, the hype is real. 


The pieces were beautiful and their presence could be felt all around. So much so that I didn't want to pull out my phone to photograph anything. I just wanted to enjoy the moment and get the most of my experience. But the impulse to snap a few kicked in.


Once you get pass the surface appeal, the meaning of each piece is just as important. Struggle and perseverance hide within the colorful characters eyes. The spirit and history of Asia is themed throughout. Murakami references historical events and Arhat monks in majority of the work. 


After reading each statement I began to understand more about Murakami as a person. A man who is self-aware of people's criticism and comfortable in being himself. Spreading messages of positivity and the culture that he holds dear to heart. 


This is definitely an exhibit that can't be fully experienced in a single visit and I plan on returning to this journey again until I can't no more. There's a lot more questions that need answers and knowledge to be gained. 


- Willie

Willie Burton