With spaces in Paris, Hong Kong, New York, Seoul, Tokyo and Shanghai, Emmanuel Perrotin’s eponymous gallery now hopes to build stronger in-roads into the Arab world.
Perrotin says the gallery, which opens in Dubai on Friday, is always keen to bring its artists’ voices to new audiences. He adds: “The whole region is developing projects around art, and we want our artists to be able to participate in them".
To mark the occasion, Perrotin is exhibiting a series of works by Murakami, offering a sweeping introduction into his vast body of work. Perrotin explains: “I met Takashi Murakami almost 30 years ago: he is an artist I deeply admire. In my view, Takashi is not only one of the most important artists of his time, but also a mentor for a whole generation of artists and creatives.”
For his first UAE exhibition, Murakami curated a selection of his works, opening up with a series of sculptures themed around his character, Mr Dob — initially inspired by Mickey Mouse, alongside the Japanese characters Doraemon and Sonic the Hedgehog.
The artist says he hopes the exhibition will be a good starting point for UAE art lovers keen to explore his work.
The Murakami.Flowers project combines his distinctive "Superflat" style with retro Japanese video game aesthetics. The exhibition also includes his robotic Arhat sculpture, which reimagines the artist as one of the Arhats, the clairvoyant disciples of the Buddha.
Murakami is among the world’s most celebrated contemporary artists, frequently compared in ambition and influence to fellow pop art pioneer, Andy Warhol. His collaborations with Louis Vuitton, Kanye West and Drake, have proved revolutionary. His "Superflat" style draws on traditional Japanese paintings and contemporary pop culture, presented through intentionally kitsch sculptures and two-dimensional paintings, which are set against Western aesthetics, and deconstruct hierarchies of high and lowbrow material.
Perrotin is also unveiling a group presentation, with works by Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Yves Klein, Yayoi Kusama and more. While these works are on show at Perrotin’s new DIFC space, the Murakami and Boyd Kinsella exhibitions are so sweeping in scope that the gallery decided to partner with ICD Brookfield, which is hosting these showcases within its own larger premises a short walk away.
ICD Brookfield Place’s curator of arts and culture, Malak Abu-Qaoud, says the exhibitions from the masters will complement ongoing efforts to support local artists. “ICD Brookfield Place Arts programme will always seek to champion and nurture local talent, but we also look to foster community and create a cultural ecosystem. We are delighted to have this opportunity to do that and to offer the space to showcase these extraordinary works to a broad, local audience."
Hosting Murakami and Boyd Kinsella, she says, is “like a dream come true”. Abu-Qaoud adds: “In a way, it gives us even bigger platform, when we work with younger, regional emerging or established artists, because they’re then associated with artists like Murakami or Boyd Kinsella.”
Vanessa Clairet, director of communications and development at Perrotin, says Murakami's exhibition represents not just the history of his own career, but that of the gallery too.
"Takashi is really part of the gallery's history — we've worked with him since 1993. So it's more than a representation, it's a friendship, and he's also a big part of the development of the gallery," says Clairet.
The partnership with ICD Brookfield Place has allowed Perrotin to arrive in the region with a strong statement, she says. Dubai, she adds, is the “perfect” place to set up a permanent gallery in the Middle East.
“There are so many art initiatives and culture and art lovers. We want to bring artists also to this new audience and create new opportunities in the region for them.”
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