Takashi Murakami: Healing Powers

The Pop Artist Strikes a Different Tone in the Wake of the Fukushima Disaster

Japan’s explosive master of color Takashi Murakami contemplates the shifting purpose of his work in today’s short from Friend & Colleague. The Tokyo-born artist was interviewed while surrounded by new pieces at his Arhat exhibition at LA’s Blum & Poe gallery, shortly after the international premiere of fantastical epic Jellyfish Eyes, which took place at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in April. Murakami has earned major retrospectives at the Brooklyn Museum, MOCA in Los Angeles and the Château de Versailles, and last year had a solo show at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. His new feature film is a more sentimental and sincere undertaking than his previous work and follows a young boy in Japan mourning the death of his father and readjusting to life while striking up an unlikely companionship with a creature that resembles a flying jellyfish. The ironic undercurrents typical of the artist are noticeably absent, in light of the disasters that have rocked Japan in the last two years, following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. “He is well known for his loud and sometimes shocking work,” says director Alexei Tylevich of Murakami’s apparent about-face. “It was really surprising to hear him talk about unexpected notions like ‘spirituality’ and ‘healing.’” 

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    Film royalty Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman conspire with YouTube virtuoso Graydon Sheppard of “Sh*t Girls Say” fame to create today’s videogram, which features the cousin duo bantering on love and obsession. Shooting six-second vignettes on the iPhones inspired by Twitter’s new mobile app Vine, Sheppard pays homage to Coppola’s latest feature A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, whose comic flavor hinges on absurdist amorous pursuits. The film stars Charlie Sheen as an unrepentant LA playboy who spirals out of control when his girlfriend leaves him and enlists the help and guidance of best friend Kirby Star—played by Schwartzman—to win her back in a 1970s-style romp complete with surreal revenge fantasies and winking parallels to Sheen’s own very public meltdown. A recent Academy Award nominee for Best Original Screenplay, Coppola is the son of polymath Francis Ford and brother of fellow filmmaker Sofia; Schwartzman, meanwhile, has made a name for himself starring in Wes Anderson films from Rushmore to Moonrise Kingdom, on which Roman collaborated, and cousin Sofia's Marie Antoinette. From major film production to casual smart phone clips, Coppola and Schwartzman know how to keep their sense of humor, while keeping it in the family. 

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