Murakami’s signature character, Mr. DOB was born in 1993, intentionally designed as a graphic icon to that has been swiftly developed into a multidimensional and multifunctional figure that Murakami has used in all facets of his production. In Klein’s Pot, the artist mapped advanced scientific theories onto the face of Mr. DOB, and named the series of paintings after a mathematical theory where one is unable to distinguish between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ surfaces. DOB became an endless compositional machine that continues to fuel the artist’s painterly imagination to this day.
Takashi Murakami, Klein’s Pot A, 1994–97 (detail), acrylic on canvas mounted on board in plexiglass box
Colección Pérez Simón, Mexico, © 1994–97 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved
Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg is the first major retrospective of Takashi Murakami’s paintings to be shown in Canada. Spanning three decades of the artist’s career—from his monumental paintings of the 1980s to new, never-before-seen works—this critical survey reveals the consistent themes and profound engagement with history that have guided the artist’s practice. More than fifty paintings and sculptures in the exhibition highlight a dedication to craftsmanship and uninhibited imagination mining a diverse field of conceptual and cultural references extending from folklore to art history and popular culture.
The exhibition takes its title “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg” from an ancient Japanese parable, tako ga jibun no ashi wo kurau. It refers to a situation in which one survives for the time being by feeding on or sacrificing oneself. The octopus eats its own leg to survive, but does so knowing the tentacle will regenerate. The phrase symbolises the cyclical nature of Murakami’s practice and the creative output of the Kaikai KiKi studio. Murakami is the octopus: he consumes history, culture and even his own oeuvre and fame to persevere as an artist.