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  • Art Autumn In Miyoshi vol. 1 - It’s Time For A Festival!!! (Oh no…)

Art Autumn In Miyoshi vol. 1 - It’s Time For A Festival!!! (Oh no…)

A Festival! Part 1

Hello and allow me to introduce myself. My name is Koichiro Endo and I’m the administrative director of Kaikai Kiki’s Miyoshi Factory.


I’ve been instructed to give you all a report on the day to day activities of the Miyoshi Studio and to that purpose, I’ve been doing a lot of interviews and research to find out just what it is that everyone here is doing. I hope you enjoy the read.

The setting is May, 2009.
Before us is a single painting that’s been worked on for over three years.
The time has finally come to ship 727-272: The Emergence Of God At The Reversal Of Fate.

It all started in 2006, when Murakami received an offer from Francois Pinault, the owner of the Palazzo Grassi and President of the Pinault Foundation. Upon purchasing the painting “727-272” from a solo exhibition at the Perrotin gallery, Mr. Pinault approached Murakami, saying “I really love this painting. Do you think you could do a continuation of it?” Murakami’s immediate, unassuming reply: “That sounds interesting! Let’s do it!” …

A view of Murakami’s 2006 solo exhibition at the Perrotin Gallery.
727-272, 2006
©2006 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

So was born a new and impossible task: carrying out revisions on a 13 meter painting. It was, in short, the start of a festival.


The embarrassing details contained in this story can also be found in Sarah Thornton’s book Seven Days In The Art World.


16 panels, each three meters in length, forming a painting 24 meters in size. Ladies and Gentlemen, say hello to 727-272: The Emergence Of God At The Reversal Of Fate.

It’s… huge!

At first glance, this photo appears to show Murakami above it all, relaxing in a chair, but in truth, he was succumbing to a cloud of confusion with only a week left until the deadline. “It won’t end. It just won’t end. “ (Imagine the anime character Jo Yabuki whining to his trainer Danpei Tange). The person on the far end of the picture with his hands in his pockets, looking just as confused, is Miyoshi’s Studio Director A.K.A. Shisho. “What are we gonna do… there’s still a whole panel with nothing on it…”


Let’s back up. Here’s an image from the early groundwork on 727.This is back in the golden days when the art school graduate combo of Mr. and Hirata worked as volunteers.. I (Endo) was probably still in elementary school.


At the time, painting was done in a pre-fab shack and in order to make room for production on all the different panels, we had no choice but to move. This was the moment we began renting studio space. In the photo, you can see assistants drawing the outlines for the painting. At present, we use silk screens for the majority of this work, but back then, it was all done by hand. There was no money anywhere and all the man power came from volunteers, many of whom still work here today…

Our first studio was rather short lived. After some issues with the owner and the real estate company, it was only a half year before we were on the move again. It’s almost as if the events leading up to our move to the Miyoshi studio were all in the service of completing 727-272 .

So now, after years of twists and turns (we’ll have to cover these middle years in another report. It’s a long story…), this monumental work is finally approaching completion.

Murakami has been holed up in the studio for nearly two weeks, painting non-stop. Staff, too, have been battling with it for months. Every day, as many as 20 people have been continuously attacking the canvasses day and night.


With only a day left until shipping, Murakami, team leader Shisho, Tagawa from shipping, and myself, studio coordinator Koichiro Endo, were running around in a panic. “Are we going to finish in time?! I can’t take it anymore!!” There wasn’t even time for a restroom break. It was at that moment, in the midst of all that craziness, that I heard one of our assistants, Ebato-san, yell out across the room.

“Aw man, this means the festival’s over!!
I don’t want it to end!”

The woman in the rear of this photograph is Ebato-san. Kneeling next to her in the front is Soga-san. (By the way, the painting they’re working on is not the 16 m one.)

What --?!

How can you say that at a time like this???

And yet, this one phrase brilliantly captures the essence of Kaikai Kiki’s philosophy.

What’s that, you ask? Well. All over the world, in every gallery, in every museum where they’ve exhibited, both Takashi Murakami and Mr. transform their production sites into an unfathomable war zone in the days before an opening. No matter how far the country, as many as 10 staff will flood the venue to work on-site, sleeping in shifts nearby and using every possible second available for the pursuit of quality. Even the organizers of these shows are inevitably surprised by what transpires (perhaps it would be more accurate to say annoyed). “Do they really have to go this far?!”


In 2002, Murakami’s solo exhibition Kaikai Kiki at the Cartier Foundation in Paris saw our entire staff work ‘round the clock on Gero Tan and still fail to meet deadline, eventually forcing them to continue painting for a week after the opening, before a live audience. When the dust settled, the majority of the people involved left the company. “Who could possibly stand working here?!!” But then again, a few stayed. And since then, their burdens have only grown heavier and heavier.

So why do it? Why do they continue? Perhaps the answer lies in Ebato-san’s words. They enjoy the show. No! That’s not right. They’re addicted to it!! If not, they wouldn’t be able to take this punishment day after day. Finish one opening, and head straight into work on the next.

Unending deadlines, unending carnage.

If you’re watching from the sidelines, it must seem pretty mystifying and the truth is that even we can’t wrap our heads around it. We just keep on moving.

The festival that never ends.
The festival that never can end.
The festival we don’t want to end???

Just as the dopamines in the junkie’s brain multiply, causing him to want a stronger and stronger fix, we are in continual search of the next festival. Addiction.

Part 1, over and out.