Murakami @ Galerie Perrotin, Paris

Galerie Perrotin in Paris is quite possibly the most beautiful commercial gallery space I have ever visited. The building which is housed in le Marais invites its visitors inside with two grand staircases up to a sumptuous two-storey white building, covered with greenery. Currently its insides are playing host to Takashi Murakami, an artist who has been showing in the space for the past two decades.

Learning the Magic of Painting boasts over 40 artworks from sculpture, painting and even handbags. The show is bright and vibrant, with Murakami’s recognisable Japanese characters and motifs visible from the outset. However, among the bright yellows, pinks and oranges are dark pieces. Whole canvases are painted black and embossed with skulls.

The exhibition title comes from a quote from the Japanese artist: ‘ever since I started studying painting at 19 to this day, at 54, I have been, and still am, in the middle of learning the magic of painting.’ His oeuvre is certainly magical, cartoon like characters dominate the gallery in a multitude of different guises.

Amongst Murakami’s subjects are dozens of arhats, the name of Buddha’s followers. Buddhism is also present in his circular ‘enso’ paintings, which portray skulls and flowers. The artist is not just inspired by religion. On show are a series of paintings inspired by Francis Bacon in the form of distorted, pained figures.

Interestingly, one of the final galleries showcases a series of pastel canvases alongside one-off Murakami handbags. A surprising but fun end to a spectacular exhibition.

Learning the Magic of Painting is on display until 23 December

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a special interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and also writes for After Nyne, Ibraaz and Reorient.

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