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Tan Bo

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Critical Review

This collection features two prints made by the renowned Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami. Both prints depict the same cartoon character, Tan Tan Bo using different mediums, with one of the works being a silkscreen print, while the other is an offset lithograph.

The cartoon character depicted in these prints, Tan Tan Bo, has been described as the ‘reincarnation of Mr. DOB as a monster’. The cartoon’s appearance is very similar to that of Mr. DOB, who is identifiable by his Mickey Mouse- style head, large round eyes and wide grin. Tan Tan Bo is inspired by a manga character created by Mizuki Shigeru. Murakami is a long-time lover of anime and manga and these Japanese cartoons and comics have had a profound impact on the artist’s visual language and style.

Tan Tan Bo’a monster-like appearance in these prints, with his giant face that is spitting out colourful phlegm from a gaping black mouth, has been read as representing Murakami’s personal anxiety regarding the expanding development of nuclear power. The prints act as a reflection of Murakami’s personal psyche, as well as a symbol of the socio-political climate in Japan and pressing societal concerns.