Shinji Murakami

Writing And Photography by Daniel Cassady

The idea of the future of art, or, art in the future, often includes visions of three dimensional multimedia pieces, video, audio, and stills blended together in ways we haven’t thought of yet, and projected interactive installations. Shinji Murakami’s art has both feet firmly planted in the future, the future of the late 1980’s. His is a pixilated, 8-bit world where everyday things, our pets, familiar buildings, and even abstract notions like mortality, love, and the invisible spaces we inhabit, are turned into symbols that any viewer can relate to. Murakami’s studio is covered in dense, tangible models of these symbols, solid, with beveled edges and sharp corners, and shiny, a sure sign that they come from some better, kinder place far off in time from the present. But there are no futuristic tools here. There are regular, today tools. Tools that artists and craftsmen have used for decades and longer. This is because, as time-specific as Murakami’s works are, they are built in the most timeless of ways. Paint and canvas. Wood and saw. Rubber stamp and inkpad. The futuristic gleam of his sculptures does not come from some highly reflective plastic compound molded in a 3D printer but from the sun bouncing off thoroughly polished lacquer that has been carefully applied to a large hand cut block of honest to god wood, sanded with fine grit paper, and reapplied and re-polished. His work is the work of a craftsman, while his ideas and intentions are nothing but artistic. There is talk, however, of the future around Murakami’s studio, the actual future that is weeks and months from today, mostly in the form of upcoming projects. One of these future projects involves user generated art via a specially designed app, a kind of digital commission. The art, of course, would be hand made, but the design, the idea, would begin in the digital world and in the mind of the consumer. Duchamp would have loved the idea. And then the immediate future, which for Murakami is increasingly bright. He has work being distributed by Maison 24 and the PK Shop, and soon, an auction on ArtNet and The Affordable Art Fair this coming April. Murakami’s first solo show opens today (March 7th), at the Artion Galleries located at 275 Water St.

Shinji Murakami is represented by Tinca Art