Japanese born 1962
Mr Pointy 2003
Fabric, fiberglass and metal
As one of the most feted and influential artists working in Japan today, Takashi Murakami creates imagery using elements drawn from Japanese art history, popular culture, design disciplines, religious ritual, and cartoons. His output includes paintings, sculpture, prints and he engages in collaborations with high-end design companies such as Louis Vuitton. The appeal of his work to both serious collectors and a wider public is such that his celebrity status has been compared to that of the famous American pop artist Andy Warhol. This work from 2003 is both a sculpture and a costume intended to be worn in a performance at the opening night of an exhibition. Titled Tongari-kun (Mr. Pointy) Costume, it typifies Murakami’s whimsicality that somehow belies his serious academic credentials: he holds graduate and doctoral qualifications from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. At university, he studied Nihonga, a traditional style
of Japanese painting and, at the same time, he became interested in subcultures that emerged in Japan after World War II. One of these subcultures known as kawaii (meaning cute) is associated in Japan with women’s fashion and refers to attributes that are childlike and playful but can also infer susceptibility. Such cuteness might seem benign but it can also involve an underlying aggression or sexuality.The Mr Pointy costume allows for conflicting interpretations and in this respect is entirely typical of Murakami’s method. Thus the work can be seen either as whimsical, charming and toy-like with its decorations and cosy materials, or it can be considered enigmatic, confronting and even sinister just as a scarecrow might appear as a sinister apparition. The Mr. Pointy image recurs frequently in Murakami’s paintings, prints, and sculpture.