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Critical Review

The Homage collection is composed of a variety of screen prints and lithograph prints produced by the renowned Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami. The prints in this collection are all homages to famous figures or cultural moments, such as Francis Bacon and Yves Klein.

Many of the prints in this collection feature Murakami’s signature smiling flowers. Smiling flowers are a visual motif that appears frequently throughout Murakami’s artworks. The flowers have become closely associated with the artist’s name and are probably his most recognisable motif. An Homage To Yves Klein, Multicolor D shows a composition filled with multi-colour flowers. The centre of the flowers resembles the smiley face emoji, and the smiling faces imbue the flowers with emotion. The smiling flowers, which beam out at the viewer of the print, encapsulate the ‘kawaii’ aesthetic, which refers to the Japanese culture of cuteness. Many of Murakami’s artworks feature kawaii cartoon characters whose adorable big, round eyes and wide grins give the characters an endearing appearance. Discussing his flowers, Murakami explains: “each one seems to have its own feelings, its own personality”. The individuality of the flowers is reflected in the fact that each flower has a unique combination of colours, which also showcases Murakami’s obsessive attention to detail and sensitivity to colour.

Other prints in the collection, such as Homage To Francis Bacon, are devoid of flowers, however showcase the influence of anime and manga (Japanese cartoons and comics) on Murakami’s artistic style. All the prints feature bright and bold colours which gives them a psychedelic feel. While Homage To Francis Bacon does not feature any of Murakami’s flowers, it does contain other of the artist’s cartoon characters, such as Mr. Pointy and Mr. DOB. Murakami is well known for his impressive cast of characters that reappear in different iterations throughout his artworks. Characters often appear together however sometimes feature alone as the sole subject of his prints. Other notable characters include Kaikai and Kiki, an iconic cartoon duo that often feature together and have been described as the ‘ying and yang’ of Murakami’s cartoon world. Kaikai is rendered as an endearing character, defined by a big smile and white rabbit-like ears while Kiki’s appearance is slightly more sinister, as the cartoon has three eyes and fangs.