Takashi Murakami, one of the world’s most influential and acclaimed contemporary artists, will launch a nine-stop screening tour of his first live-action feature film Jellyfish Eyes (2013) at the Dallas Museum of Art on Thursday, May 1. This may be enough for Murakami fans, but the artist will also be in attendance for a Q&A following the presentation — a rare treat on this excursion.
Jellyfish Eyes, which blends computer-animated graphics and live-action cinematography, recalls Japanese monster films of the 1950s. Tokyo-based Murakami combines his trademark anime-inspired visual aesthetic with broader themes of social change and self-empowerment.
The film tells the story of young Masashi, who recently lost his father and moves with his mother to a small city in the Japanese countryside. When he discovers their new apartment is inhabited by a pint-sized, gravity-defying creature, Masashi begins to discover that very little in this sleepy town is what it appears to be.
A connoisseur of Japanese popular culture — from children’s manga and anime to classic monster movies — Murakami packs his film with ideas and imagery, resulting in a coming-of-age fantasy filled with romance, battling CGI avatars, nuclear intrigue, rival doppelgangers and a giant monster.
Murakami has said that children are the focus of the film because he wanted “to highlight Japan’s complicated social issues in a way children can appreciate so perhaps when they become adults, they will be better equipped to deal or even improve these issues.
“Children are very smart, therefore it is imperative for them to know the world we live in is full of traps, dangers and unpleasantness. I am not a pessimist; I am a realist. ... By telling children the harsh truth, some of them will use that energy and create something awesome when they grow up.”
Born in Tokyo in 1962, Takashi Murakami works in painting, sculpture and commercial media, most famously in his collaboration with luxury brand Louis Vuitton. His work has been exhibited extensively in venues around the world.
The screening of Jellyfish Eyes takes place May 1, 7-9 pm, in Horchow Auditorium at the DMA. Entrance to the presentation is included in the free general admission, but reservations are required to ensure a seat. Following the screening, Takashi Murakami will participate in a Q&A session with assistant curator of contemporary art Gabriel Ritter.