Shinji Murakami

“After a few moments processing the cuteness overload packed inside the gallery, what is immediately striking is Murakami’s masterful hand: Each sculpture is crafted from meticulously stacked, hand-cut wooden blocks that resemble giant pixels. Once bound together, the structures are painted in acrylic and enamel in a restricted palette of vivid hues.

For this latest solo exhibition, Murakami prepared all of his works digitally. Using Google SketchUp, he maps out the building blocks of each sculpture, then goes offscreen and into the woodshop. There, the wood is cut, primed and painted. The paintings are planned out in Photoshop and Illustrator, then projected onto the canvas for precision tracing and painting.

The pixelated works embrace simplicity: Murakami wants to stir up feelings of happiness and “nostalgia for 80s video games.” “Forget about the complicated rules of the contemporary art for awhile,” he writes in an email with a smiley. “I would like random passersby to enjoy them. It’s like when I was drawing cute characters on the street in Tokyo, which could be enjoyed by kids as well as their grandparents, instead of engaging with the style wars of street writers.”

Text excerpt by Noémie Jennifer

Rainbow, 2016,
plywood, screw, alkyd paint with stand, 43 × 56 × 15 in