What's kaikaikiki

A Message

Kaikai Kiki Representative, Takashi Murakami

Laying the Foundation for a Japanese Art Market

In 1996 I founded the Hiropon Factory, which would become Kaikai Kiki’s predecessor.  At the time, the “factory” was nothing more than a small workshop-like group of people assisting me with my sculptures and paintings.  Two years before that I had traveled to New York on a scholarship and set up a studio there as well.  As I took on new projects, the scale of my production grew, and by 2001, when I had a solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, the Hiropon Factory had grown into a professional art production and management organization.  That same year I registered the company officially as “Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd.” To this day it has developed into an internationally-recognized, large-scale art production and artist management corporation, employing over 100 people in its offices and studios in Hiroo, Tokyo and Long Island City, New York, as well as in its new animation studio in Daikanyama, Tokyo.  (For more information, see Company Overview: History.)

Over the years, I have encountered many hurdles in my path.  But in clearing them, I have taken each challenge as an opportunity to expand my dreams and goals.  One such hurdle was that in post-war Japan, there was no reliable art market.  The art scene existed only as a shallow appropriation of Western trends, or an artificial construction of self-contained hierarchies, unable to support an artist’s career over many years.  I realized this when I was a student, and stopped operating within the Japanese art market altogether, investing my energies instead into promoting my works overseas.  Now that I have seen the results of that endeavor, I am returning to the Japanese market in an attempt to build what was not there originally.  The art fair that I organize in Tokyo two times a year, GEISAI, is the product of this new attempt to spur the Japanese art market.

Another hurdle I have faced is the difference inherent in Japanese and Western artistic practices, and the frustrating “non-art” status that much of Japanese art bears, both within, and outside of the country.  My first response to this was to and market artistic works in non-fine arts media.  But after that, I thought: “why not just revolutionize the concept of art itself?” To achieve this, I curated a series of exhibitions: Superflat, Coloriage, and Little Boy, which attempted to portray the lesser-known potential of Japanese artistic creativity by introducing Japanese pop culture creations to an international audience.  This approach—one of not fearing barriers, of always considering the larger structure, and of addressing problems from their core—has become a basic tenet of Kaikai Kiki’s company activities.

Art is the supreme incarnation of luxury entertainment.  When creating works, I am extremely attentive to all aspects of the process; not letting a single detail slip by in my quest to imbue works with a true soul.  In the management of our artists, we maintain policies and standards for their dealings in the art world, while also keeping flexible and considering projects case-by-case; all with the careers of our artists in mind.  While it is an idealistic vision, this insistence on the highest standards of quality and communication is a driving force in my work.

Kaikai Kiki also works to nurture and raise the next generation of artists.  While pushing them to their limits to create the finest works possible, Kaikai Kiki operates through its networks to ensure the finest opportunities and best provisions be made available so that these young artists have the tools to survive in today’s art world.  Our artists show their work in highly regarded exhibitions worldwide, are included in prestigious collections, and appear in newsworthy art events on a regular basis.  I work with our artists to gradually expand the scale of their work, and explore new technologies and fields of expression.

I find living with art to be both intensely personal, and to facilitate communication with others at a level of depth unattainable by any other means.  That flexibility makes me happy.  I believe in the power of art to break down freedom-constricting boundaries, repression, and prejudice.  Art is a journey where the path is long and the end is sometimes hard to see.  But I am happy to have others join me, standing together and looking forward down the road.