Tonight, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami is set to unveil a new large-scale one-man exhibition at Palazzo Reale in Milan entitled “Arhat Cycle”. The exhibition, curated Franceso Bonami, is Murakami’s first in an Italian museum in ten years, a reminder of his skill at mixing both the historical and the contemporary into a seductive package that speaks to multiple sensibilities at the same time.
The centerpiece that stands just in front of the entrance, “Oval Buddha Silver” (2008), is a luminous sterling silver sculpture that dazzles with both its technical perfection and commanding sense of gravitas. Deeper into the exhibition, visitors will find a number of pieces from his “Arhat” series, created in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011. Here, Murakami’s trademark distorted monk-like figures trawl like apocalyptic vagabonds through a battered landscape — an ironic treatment of how traditional arhats used to be portrayed as enlightened beings in a decadent mortal world. Also fabricated especially for this exhibition is a new series of skull paintings that seem to cascade in free fall. Palazzo Reale will also be hosting the Europe premiere of Murakami’s first live-action feature film, “Jellyfish Eyes.” This magnum opus, which depicts a Japanese boy coming to terms with the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, took the artist ten years to complete, and comprises both consummately detailed computer graphics and painstakingly crafted live-action sequences.
Takashi Murakami’s “Arhat Cycle” runs at the Palazzo Reale in Milan from July 24 through September 7, 2014.