Shinji Murakami’s solo emoji exhibition ????????????????????✨???????????? opened on Friday, January 22nd at Catinca Tabacaru Gallery. The exhibition is composed of fourteen of the artist’s signature style of sculptural 3D – 8BIT objects and his 8BIT maps.
Murakami’s interest in emoticons stems far deeper than the recent increase in the use of these hieroglyphs in popular culture—he has long been interested in pictograms from early video games and mobile phones in the late 1990s. The pixelated bumpiness of these early graphics form the basis of his work, which he translates into building blocks for his sculptures and paintings.
The large scale of Murakami’s sculptures transports the viewer to a dreamlike wonderland in which we make our way past galloping black horses and block-colored rainbows while sharply-edged hearts pulsate from walls. The simplified shapes stand in strong contrast with the artist’s dedication to detail and craft—the smooth surfaces are hardly distinguished as plywood. Murakami considers his methodology a form of distillation through which he removes unimportant elements from his subjects, leaving only the fundamental elements that make up the shape.
The artist’s paintings and maps capture Murakami’s nostalgia, again stripping down the shape of a flower to its essential pixels. His interest in simplification stands in opposition to the ever-improving world of computer graphics and offers a refreshing look into the past.
The exhibition will be on view at Catinca Tabacaru Gallery until February 26th.
Like this article? Check out Sean Kelly Gallery’s exhibition in NYC and other global art news.