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Japan Supernatural: Vertiginous After Staring at the Empty World Too Intensely, I Found Myself Trapped in the Realm of Lurking Ghosts and Monsters



Takashi Murakami


1962 –

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Tokyo Japan
    Media category
    Materials used
    acrylic, gold leaf and glitter on canvas
    300.0 x 1,000.0 cm
    Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation 2019
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © 2019 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
    Artist information
    Takashi Murakami

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Often compared to artists like Andy Warhol, and famed for his collaborations with music legends Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and Billie Eilish, Takashi Murakami is one of the most important and popular artists working today.

    Created especially for the Art Gallery of New South Wales for our 2019 exhibition, ‘Japan Supernatural’, this painting combines Murakami’s personal vision with his passion for the folklore and narratives of Japan’s Edo period (1603–1868). Murakami’s picture brings ghosts, monsters and other supernatural beings of the Edo floating world (ukiyo) into the 21st century, drawing on his deep knowledge of Japanese religion, legend and art history which he connects to the contemporary world and its concerns.

    The feline spirit dominating the centre, and the dancing cats (nekomata) around it, are transported from Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s brilliant print renditions of the story of notorious thief Nippondaemon and the cat. In Murakami’s own words: ‘... when the Gallery in Sydney invited me, I was thinking immediately, “What is my new challenge?” My answer was that I had never made a samurai image, so I started to think about samurai and yōkai, perhaps a battle between them. Japan was not a safe place when yōkai first emerged and yōkai are not just cute. My big question for this painting is, what is yōkai right now? What are our monsters today? What is a contemporary yōkai, my yōkai?’

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

    • SMP Interstitials, Art Gallery of New South Wales, North Building, Sydney, 03 Dec 2022–01 Sep 2023

Other works by Takashi Murakami