Takashi Murakami's wild works take over Vancouver Art Gallery

The gallery will host Canada's first Takashi Murakami retrospective from Feb 3 to May 6, 2018.

Exhibition shows three decades' worth of Japanese artist's work

The Takashi Murakami retrospective titled The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg runs from Feb. 3 until May 6 and is the only Canadian stop on the tour. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

The mad genius of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami will take over the Vancouver Art Gallery for the next three months during the world-renowned artist's first retrospective in Canada. 

The exhibition runs from Feb. 3 until May 6 and is the only Canadian stop of the international tour, which has been exceptionally popular in other cities. 

Here is a sneak peek of the exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery:

Here is a sneak peak of the mad genius' first-ever retrospective in Canada. 1:00

On Thursday, media were invited to a sneak peek of the exhibition titled The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg.

The phrase draws from Japanese folklore, which points to the octopus's ability to regenerate a lost arm. Through a translator, Murakami explained that the title is a "self-deprecating reference."

"He is constantly recycling not only different ideas or historical references, but also a lot of his own motifs and characters from his own paintings — he keeps taking them and morphing them and trying to create something that looks new, " explained the translator.

"But he feels like he is recycling and eating his own body in order just to survive because of his lack of real talent." 

Takashi Murakami brought his own mascot, a giant octopus, to Thursday's sneak peek of the exhibition. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
This sharp-toothed character is Mr. DOB, Murakami's first signature creation inspired by anime and manga characters. The painting is from 1996. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
The artist has collaborated with musicians including Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. Murakami worked on Kanye West's 2007 Graduation album cover and created this Kanye Bear in 2009. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
More than three decades' worth of Murakami's work is on display at the gallery. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

If you aren't familiar with the Japanese artist's psychedelic-pop paintings, which borrow from anime culture and Japanese art history, you may recognize the work he's done with brands like Louis Vuitton or his collaborations with musicians Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. 

The exhibition is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and curated by Michael Darling and James W. Alsdorf.

It features 55 paintings and sculptures, including a skull surrounded by octopus tentacles that covers the gallery's Georgia Street façade.

This piece, from 2014, is one of two floor-to-ceiling sculptures in the exhibition. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
The exhibition features 55 paintings and sculptures, including this fibre-reinforced plastic, resin, fibreglass and acrylic piece titled DOB in The Strange Forest (BLUE DOB), from 1999. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

More than three decades' worth of Murakami's work are on display, though the exhibition is primarily focused on Murakami's paintings, including rarely-seen examples from the 1990s.

Murakami, who was celebrating his 56th birthday on Thursday, was surprised by Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer, who on behalf of Mayor Gregor Robertson, proclaimed Feb. 1, 2018 as Takashi Murakami Day in the City of Vancouver.

Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer (left), proclaimed Feb. 1, 2018 Takashi Murakmi Day in the City of Vancouver. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)