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Murakami Versailles

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Some artworks of the exhibition

Discover some artworks of the exhibition. Text by Laurent Le bon, curator of the exhibition, extract of the audio-guide of the exhibition.

Tongari-Kun (Mister Pointy)

Hercules salon

“Tongari-Kun”, alias “Mister Pointy” in English, is the first work that the visitor sees in the exhibition. It is probably one of the most fascinating figures in Murakami’s universe, based on a religious iconography that combines the Maya culture and Tibetan Buddhism. The figure is about 8 metres high and stands on a base consisting of lotus flowers and a frog. We recognise in the meticulous attention brought to the detail the trademark of Takashi Murakami’s studio. Thousands of colours are used, and it took four years to complete this work. Visitors will note the relation between it and the extraordinary painting on the ceiling by François Le Moine which overlooks it. This dialogue between the work of Murakami and this unique setting featuring French classical art of the XVIIIth century contains some of the spirit of this new adventure in contemporary art in Versailles."

Hercules Salon; 2003-2004; Fibreglass, iron, synthetic resin, oil paint and acrylic paint, 700cm (height) x 3.50m (circumference)

Oval Buddha silver

Work presented to the public for the first time; Abundance Salon

"The Abundance Salon, the first room of the King’s Grand Apartment, is the setting for the second work of the exhibition: “Oval Buddha Silver”. The Abundance Salon was the antechamber of the King’s Cabinet of Curiosities, where he stored and displayed his most precious objects. What better setting to show his “Oval Buddha Silver”, an emblematic figure of Murakami’s universe, packed with mannerist detail? Here we find all the ambiguity of the figures of Takashi Murakami. On the one hand, a meditative face with a frog’s mouth and a goatee beard that evokes both the figure of the emperor and the artist himself who has one. On the other hand, at the back, masked from the visitor, a more terrifying face with shark’s teeth. The “Buddha” is carried on an elephant, the symbol of endurance in the artist’s work and in Buddhism in general. This sculpture came out of a collaboration with Issey Miyake, probably one of the greatest fashion designers in the world. He has always sought to create bridges between Japan and the West and the same quest is expressed in the art of Murakami. “Oval Buddha Silver”, an essential element of Murakami’s pantheon, echoes the last work of the exhibition on the Water Parterre in the garden: another authoritative version of this figure that dominates the grand perspective of the Gardens laid out by Le Nôtre."

Work presented to the public for the first time; Abundance Salon; 2008; Silver; 135.5cm (height) x 80.5cm (width) x 78cm (depth)

Kaikai Kiki

Venus Salon

"The two figures of Kaikai Kiki are installed in the Venus Salon, under the patronage of the goddess of Love. These two figures are spiritual guardians: Kaikai, white with big ears, and Kiki, pink with three eyes and more daunting than Kaikai. On the ears of the two figures can be seen the symbols of these two names in Japanese characters, names which are at the centre of Murakami’s aesthetic universe. In fact, “Kaikai Kiki” is a Japanese word describing the works of Kano Eitoku, a 16th century painter. This not very well-known artist created a body of work based on the essential aesthetic approach that can be summed up in the idea that the bizarre and the refined go together, or the grotesque and sensitive are closely linked. This is the opportunity to introduce another essential concept in Murakami’s work: the idea of “kawai”, the idea of “cute”. This does not refer to a peaceful world but to a refined world populated by the figures of Murakami. In the Venus Salon, the spiritual guardians Kaikai and Kiki holding their spears find their place on either side of the statue of king Louis XIV."

Venus Salon; 2000 – 2005; Fibreglass, iron, synthetic resin, oil paint and acrylic paint 222cm (height) x 96cm (width) x 46cm (depth)

Kinoko Isu : medium and large

Mercury Salon

"In the Mercury Salon, the two elements of the work called “Kinoko Isu” form a kind of rare and original pieces of furniture. It is worth remembering that most of the furniture of Versailles has disappeared. But, contrary to what one might think, this was not solely due to the French Revolution but also to the changes of taste by successive monarchs. Murakami thus adds in his own way a contemporary touch with these mushroom stools, “Kinoko”, stars of the artist’s plant world. Murakami has in fact become a sort of specialist in these mushroom elements, rather strange and psychedelic plants between land and sky. This work also makes an allusion to a much more tragic episode in Japanese history: the atomic bombs dropped during the Second World War. The “Kinoko” stools have another feature: the extraordinary eyes mentioned above, inspired by “Yakume”, the character with a hundred eyes."

Mercury Salon ; 2003 ; Fibreglass, steel and acrylic paint, 40cm (height) x 171.5cm (width) x 114.7cm (depth), 40cm (height) x 294.4cm (width) x 97cm (depth)

Yume Lion (The Dream Lion)

Work presented to the public for the first time ; Apollo Salon

"We find the Yume Lion in the Apollo Salon. This sculpture covered with gold leaf takes on its full meaning in this room that used to be the most sumptuous one of the king’s Grand Apartment, first used as his bedroom before becoming the Throne Room. This gilded lion, the king of the animals, echoes the painting by Hyacinthe Rigaud depicting Louis XIV, the Sun King, in royal costume, as well as the six gilded wooden occasional tables made in 1769 for the Hall of Mirrors by Toussaint Folliot and Augustin Pajou, and the two gilded decorative andirons representing two crouching lions in the fireplace. Yume Lion, by Takashi Murakami, was originally the mascot of a Japanese television channel, Tokyo MX. The animal then had a mane with rainbow colours, “symbol of diversity, dreaming and peace”, according to the artist. By producing a sculptural version of this television icon, Murakami likes to think that this lion will have a longer life than the channel itself."

Work presented to the public for the first time ; Apollo Salon ; 2009 – 2010 ; Aluminium and gold leaf; 165cm (height) x 127cm (width) x 105cm (depth)

Kawaii - Vacances et Untitled

King's Guard room

"Kawaii – Vacances Summer Vacation in the Kingdom of the Golden" ; 2008 ; acrylic painting and gold sheet on canvas ; private collection and "Untitled" (carpet) ; 2010 ; polyamide carpet.

Flower Matango

Work presented to the public for the first time ; Hall of Mirrors

"At the end of the perspective of the Hall of Mirrors, an exceptional work was needed, and the role is taken by “Flower Matango” that can be translated as “floral monster”. We detect here a homage to the garden art of Louis XIV and the folly of this Hall of Mirrors. And there is perhaps as many colours in “Flower Matango” as in all the magnificent paintings recently restored in the Hall of Mirrors. “Flower Matango” is a creature derived from a Japanese film made by the creators of Godzilla. The monsters are the result of the absorption of mushrooms until their bodies burst, releasing dozens of extraordinary elements, which take the form in the “Flower Matango” sculpture of amazingly elaborate stems. In this work we find all the genius of Murakami, a great expert in painting flowers. In fact, he spent two years painting flowers every day, and then spent nine years teaching floral art."

Work presented to the public for the first time ; Hall of Mirrors ; 2001 – 2006 ; Fibreglass, iron, oil paint and acrylic paint ; 315cm (height) x 204.7cm (width) x 263cm (depth)

Oval Buddha

Work presented to the public for the first time

Work presented to the public for the first time ; Water Parterre ; 2007 – 2010 ; Bronze, steel and gold leaf 568cm (height) x 318.9cm (width) x 311.5cm (depth)

 

 

 

Photos : Gilles Truyens © EPV

 

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