By Nidia Trejo, 18, Downtown Magnets HS
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I went to the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA for Takashi Murakami’s exhibit, especially interested to see his art printed on Louis Vuitton bags since I want to become a fashion designer someday. I’d heard that fashion designers can draw inspiration from art, but I’d never seen it firsthand. It was incredible to see two different mediums such as art and merchandise combined. Murakami’s playful, cute characters blended nicely with the classic designs on Louis Vuitton bags. In addition to the $5,000 high-fashion bags on display, intriguing paintings, sculptures and a film by Murakami show him blending pop art and surrealism at this must-see exhibit.

Murakami is influenced by animation. Colorful, happy anime characters are in almost all of his dream-like works. His style is superflat, which means that there isn’t much depth in his two-dimensional paintings—just pure, solid colors. He repeatedly uses a pink character named Kiki, a white character named Kakai, smiling sunflowers, eyeballs with green eyes, and pointy teeth as his focus.

I felt as if I stepped into a cartoon world when I went into the room with green eyes all over the walls. It was amazing. The eyes were facing different directions and it seemed like they were looking at me, but also watching the plastic, three-dimensional sculpture in the center of the room. The sculpture is of Kiki smiling, showing its two little sharp teeth; its third eye is closed in a swirl that makes it cute, but edgy. Kiki stands happily on top of a ball of multi-colored sunflowers, holding a staff as if in control of the green eyes on the walls and the people around it. It was striking to see Kiki, normally a small creature, as a powerful figure.

Paintings like Tan Tan Bo give variety to Murakami’s work. In the painting, a gigantic head smiles with a mouth full of teeth. A smaller head, which is attached to the bigger head, has a face inside of a face, giving an evil smile. The organic shapes that flow one color into the next create the illusion that the head is moving forward, toward the viewer. Paintings like this give a sense of scary nightmares rather than lovely dreams.

Before I went, I thought all of Murakami’s pieces would be meant for kids because of his cartoonish style. I was shocked to see nude plastic figures near the entrance. They didn’t take anything away from the exhibit, but they may make some people uncomfortable. I walked away from them and moved on to see the rest of the colorful exhibit.

This exhibit has many fascinating pieces of art that would appeal to everyone, especially anime fans. Sunflower pillows, T-shirts, books and figurines are on display as art and for sale. The exhibit shows how far Murakami has taken his career. He isn’t only an artist, but a businessman, too.

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
152 N. Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Admission: Free on Thursdays from 5-8 p.m.
General Admission: $8
Students with I.D.: $5
Children under 12: Free

Monday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday and Wednesday: CLOSED
Thursday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
© MURAKAMI is showing until Feb. 11