Still reeling from the news of Virgil Abloh’s appointment at Louis Vuitton? Can’t get enough of fashion’s most hyped designer? This weekend is your last chance to catch ‘Future History,’ a collaborative exhibition from Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami and Abloh, also the mastermind behind Off-White and recently announced Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton.
Working in tandem from Murakami's studio in Tokyo, they produced a body of unique graffiti style acrylic paintings and sculptures.
Both men are experts in the power of collaborations - Murakami has worked with the likes of Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo while Abloh’s most notable pairing is with Nike on its Air Max designs. Both are also well seasoned social media pundits: the project was teased out long before the opening during London Fashion Week with a series of work in progress posts across their Instagram accounts.
“I feel very old, and with Virgil being so young... I feel like we can do anything,” says Murakami jokingly at the exhibition opening day. “Right now, it’s easy to promote [art]. When I was young that was difficult, now it’s much easier with Instagram and social media.”
In fact, a line from the artist’s social media account was repurposed for the press release: “We want to see the newest things. That is because we want to see the future, even if only momentarily. It is the moment in which, even if we don’t completely understand what we have glimpsed, we are nonetheless touched by it. This is what we have come to call art.”
The multimedia artworks hone the duo’s personal strengths and styles. On the one hand, Abloh’s signature Off-White logo motifs are present on canvas with words and phrases like, ‘Hollow,’ ‘Television,’ and ‘This is Life’ - a commentary on today’s society and commercial commodities. Murakami’s art, on the other, references traditional Japanese paintings and popular culture with large cartoon-inspired totems and graphics. Together, they are the arbiters of our time.
“We are driven by an innate ambition to make artworks that are shaped by societal observations—in a variety of media—which by their existence produce a new cultural impact,” Abloh explains in the press release.
At the heart of the show is this play on bricolage and cultural remixing, for which the duo are now synonymous. One of the paintings, Glance Past the Future, a 17th-century portrait by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, has been transformed by superimposing a screen printing of Murakami’s mouse-like cartoon character Mr. Dob in bright pink and black colours. Yet amid this assault on the sense lies an integrity which is a record of the time.
Abloh mantra? ‘Being authentic to yourself, it’s worked to the test of time,” he tells ORDRE.