‘Superflat’ and the Reconsideration of the Western Heritage: For a New Definition of the Japanese Identity

  • Abstract:

    And if the Japanese art has its own history of art without the influence of the Western art from the end of the 19th century? Throughout the Gutai and Mono-ha movements, then the Japanese Pop art, artists tried to cast doubt on the Western heritage by drawingon traditional and conceptual roots. Space, stage and frontal art, through Shintoism and the pre-war imagery, were used to express a Japanese essence. During the Heisei era, the government created the global phenomenon Cool Japan to set up a strong Japanese culture and identity on the international stage. In this context, what were the measures and the impact of the Japanese policy? Facing the global art history, how did Japanese artists created a national identity throughout new social and theoretical positions? This study will show how Morimura Yasumasa uses the imagination from the Japanese aesthetic and exoticism to exhibit a certain Nippon imaginary. Quoting and sliding inside the narration of the famous masterpieces, Morimura’s substitutions and hybridizations reflect another historic alternative. In a search of recognition of Japanese path, cross-cultures and cross-genders are instruments to set up a dialogue addressing the Western influence. But the self-portrait and the over-exposition of his Japanese affiliation are not the only processes to claim a Japanese specificity.
    The second part will focus on the identification as an otaku made by Murakami Takashi himself. He defines Superflat as an art based on a two-dimensional reality that seems to characterize the whole Japanese visual art. Traditional art used to take place in the daily life, thus Superflat produces pictures that coexists with it. Murakami claims for a hybrid art, a merged result from the Japanese Fine Arts, Nihon-ga styles and anime from manga. So, manga appears as a search for identity. Henceforth, the Japanese art rejects derivative models from the Western modernism. In this idea, Murakami and the artists of the Kaikai Kiki Corporation update an unbroken path in the Nippon culture.