designer Mamechiyo, and in recent years, fresh-faced artists from Kaikai Kiki Studio such as Ob and Aya Takano. A considerably audacious move for a global brand, it turns out these were a mere prelude to the real gambit. “Shu Uemura has expressed timeless beauty in various themes, and we like to surprise customers,” Uchiide smiles. “Well, who better than Takashi Murakami with whom Shu Uemura might share this vision?” Takashi Murakami’s prolific body of work runs the gamut from the morbid and overtly sexual, to irreverent takes on cultural stigmas as part of his Superflat movement. First and foremost a seamless fusion of high art and anime rendered in flat planes of electro pop colours, Superflat also means putting his artistic influences (that are otherwise too exorbitant in price and out of reach for most people) on consumer merchandise and mainstream media.
“In order to start a revolution, I needed to make sure the brand understood the complexity of my goals,” muses Murakami at our interview right after the Shu Uemura Six Hearts Princess collaboration launch party in Shibuya, “and Shu Uemura understood this complicated structure completely. Just look at the chaos of the party they put together for the collection: I am very satisfied.”
As with many of the Japanese pop art sensation’s oeuvres, every vibrant stroke and final flourish comes with an underlying message that is much deeper than the surface context, often examining a common theme of “chaos” and “historical explosions caused by misunderstandings”.
“Colourful colours and cute characters are kind of a trap that I place out there in my art to lure people into paying attention to the serious issues. With the themes underlying my art, they may be expected to be rendered in monochrome, but my style is all about chaos. I like to use colourful colours as a contrast,” he explains.
An international phenomenon, he now counts as one of the handful of Japanese artists