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I wonder if there are Japanese artists (commercial or otherwise) frustrated always to have Takashi Murakami playing "Mr. Japan" to western curators and art writers. In her New York Times review of a recent show of his and other Japanese artists' work at the Japan Society, Roberta Smith says
In the end Mr. Murakami has attempted psychoanalysis on a national scope in exhibition form, while creating what is arguably the most daring, thought-provoking show yet seen at Japan Society. Those who visit it stand an excellent chance of having their understanding of Japan, its culture and its history profoundly shaken.But aside from tourist brochures, Murakami seems to be dispensing the cliche wisdom about Japanese pop culture, that it reflects scarring by the atomic bomb (who wouldn't be scarred by that?) and is unhealthily obsessed with schoolgirls. Well, duh. He loves to go around saying how "impotent" the Japanese are, while he's made a mint "playing" Western curators (and handbag designers) with his faux-anime characters and anemic hard-edged paintings. The Japanese don't have a starving-in-a-garret tradition (or a contemporary art tradition per se), so they probably think he's cool for being so successful but I'd like to think there's somebody over there sticking pins in a Takashi Murakami doll.
In the U.S.A, back in the '70s, people jumped all over newscaster Harry Reasoner when he suggested Woody Allen's timidity with women in Play It Again Sam reflected the psyche of "a nation that had just lost a war" (Vietnam, yo). Yet we love it when Murakami puts his own country on the couch and calls its pop culture a reflection of its "impotence." Something smells here. What I get from anime is a good deal more sophisticated (and self-aware) look at the cultural currents driving this most productive and creatively gifted of countries. Anime is enjoyed all over the world, and not just as a symptom.
More here and here.