[dropcap]T[/dropcap]ouch down in Tokyo. What will the next 36 hours have in store you ask? Here is my Socially Speaking contribution to TheArtGorgeous – my take on Takashi Murakami’s Tokyo weekend take-over!
Landing into Tokyo on Thursday night, I was greeted by the incredibly hospitable team of the Andaz Tokyo in Toranomon Hills. The Hyatt property is surrounded by Contemporary art so it was the perfect place for me to lay my weary head before my Murakami marathon.
After indulging in some umami delights at the Nobu in Toranomon, I had to also partake in the art around Toranomon Hills before calling it a night.
The monumental and symbolic sculpture ‘Roots’ by Juame Plensa is beautifully illuminated at night; it is an awe-inspiring 10 metre high work that was unveiled in Toranomon Hills under the supervision of the Mori Art Museum in 2014. The piece is a contemplative self-portrait of the artist made up of the script of the 8 most commonly spoken languages being Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Russian, Hindi and Latin.
Having last seen Plensa’s monumental works in Abbazia Di San Girgio Maggiore in Venice over the summer, it was comforting to be greeted by a familiar face (pun intended).
Juame Plensa ‘Roots’ in Toranomon Hills
Friday, October 30th
After a quick spin around Mitsukoshi and Ginza, to pick up some of my children’s and my favourite Japanese treats, I made my way over to Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Minato-Ku to visit Emmanuel Perrotin, the charming and visionary dealer who has been with Murakami from the beginning.
Galerie Perrotin organised a pop-up exhibition by Takashi Murakami “Enso” at Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Tokyo to run concurrently with Takashi’s retrospective, “The 500 Arhats” at the Mori Art Museum.
Preview of Takashi Murakami: The 500 Arhats, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
Arriving at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills, you could feel the excitement mounting. Guests, young and old, were clutching invitations and briskly making their way into the museum from all directions to be one of the first to catch a glimpse of the highly anticipated exhibition.
As the crowd of guests were snaking their way up to the 53rd floor of the Mori Tower, we could all tell this was not going to be an ordinary opening night.
Mingling and meandering amidst the excited crowd were the enchanted creatures of Tokyo’s cosplayers.
With bejewelled finger nails, painted bodies and faces, these fantastical characters from Tokyo’s cosplay culture were walking among us, engaging and captivating us with their bewildering smiles and movements, adding to the magic of Murakami’s solo exhibition.
Once we entered the museum, we were greeted by Takashi Murakami’s recent works with the focal point being his epic 500 Arhats (2012): a 3 metre high and 100 metre long painting of 500 enlightened followers (arhats) of Buddhas, created in response to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
Chatting with Emmanuel Perrotin at the exhibition, I expressed my amazement with the show. He simply answered back: ‘that’s not all’ – and boy was he right. As I made my way from room to room, I was moved even more by Murakami’s new artistic direction. This magnum opus is jaw-dropping. We could see how the artist was delving into the theme of art and religion and our mortality.
His photographic work, ‘Reborn’ from 2012 is now engraved in my mind as one of the many symbols for this.
Reborn, 2012, Pigment print (Photographer: Hirao Kentaro, Stylist: Yunoki Kazuki, Special Effects Makeup: JIRO, Production Coordinator: Kaikai Kiki)
Preview of Takashi Murakami: The 500 Arhats at The Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
Reception and panel discussion, Roppongi Hills Club, 51st Floor, Mori Tower.
The Roppongi Hills Club rooms, reserved for the panel discussion and toast to Takashi, were over capacity filled with excited guests from galleries, museums and other supporters and sponsors all waiting to catch a glimpse of the artist and raise a glass in his honour.
It was almost time for us to head to the Grand Hyatt for dinner, but not until I ventured up to the roof of the Mori Tower for some fresh air and take in the stunning sights of Tokyo by night.
Dinner in the Grand Ballroom at the Grand Hyatt, Roppongi
With Louis Vuitton sponsoring the dinner, it was no surprise that the entrance to the ballroom was guarded by a tower of Louis Vuitton trunks, which every art girl can’t deny loving the sight of.
Botanical artist Azuma Makoto (@azumamakoto) decorated the trunks with exquisite orbs, which were a sneak preview to the monumental suspended centre piece in the ballroom and brilliant centre pieces for each of the tables.
We were treated to an exquisitely presented meal, which had every guest posting their tables on Instagram to share the culinary delights and the ‘Enso’ inspired presentation.
The dinner was punctuated by poignant speeches and messages. Of course, the most entertaining and highly anticipated speech of them all was by the man of the hour, Takashi Murakami.
Takashi & Viola; Dinner to celebrate Takashi Murakami at the Grand Hyatt
After Party, Ebisu Yokocho (Ebisu Shibuya-ku)
9:00pm – 5:00am
For those of us lucky enough to have been adorned with the rainbow wristband before dinner, the night was still young.
At the end of a beautiful meal where we enjoyed brilliant banter and made gorgeous new art friends, we were told to make our way down to the buses at the front of the hotel to take us to the after party.
Complete with music, cocktails, handcuffs, poles and exotic hosts …this was going to be a fun night.
Touching down in Ebisu, we were greeted by the cosplayers from the museum who were now enjoying their dinner and waiting to revel with us until the early hours. Takashi Murakami had taken over these lane ways filled with bars and restaurants for the night. He walked among the crowd as a triumphant hero in brilliant costumes and head pieces. We sang karaoke (we are in Japan after all), watched sushi chefs make us sashimi with swords, admired burlesque dancers and a rotund young man dancing for us with a tambourine and probably wearing a tad too much lycra.
As the night turned into the wee hours of the morning, friendships were forged and the fun did not stop. Jean-Michel Othoniel, the extraordinary French Contemporary artist, also represented by Galerie Perrotin was amid the many noteworthy guests. It was brilliant to see artists supporting other artists. We all felt very much like part of a family that night, joined together celebrating a loved one. Galerie Perrotin commands a loyalty from their clients and artists, which is impressive and welcomed in today’s art world.
Emmanuel’s exceptional team must be credited for the faultless execution of the evening’s celebrations. Stephanie from Galerie Perotin in HK went out of her way to make sure we enjoyed ourselves, a credit to the gallery and art girls all over.
If you can travel to Tokyo to see Takashi Murakami at The Mori Art Museum you will not be sorry.
The after-party in Ebisu Yokocho
Viola is frequently invited as a guest speaker at Sotheby’s Institute, the International Bar Association, Luxury and Wealth Management forums, museums and art fairs internationally. She is a regular contributor to CNN, CNBC and Bloomberg television news as an expert on the international art market.