japanese invasion

takashi murakami on opening hidari zingaro berlin

Takashi Murakami has in incredible infatuation with Berlin. His desire to move to the German capital and have a studio here has perhaps come a little late ("If I were ten years younger"). However, the Japanese icon has sent an ambassador to live vicariously through in the form of the first non-Japanese branch of Murakami's gallery series, Hidari Zingaro.

The small gallery space, tucked away from the busy "art zones" of Berlin (if we may call them that), is more homage to the city than capitalistic venture—a silent wink to Berlin's creative integrity and power of attraction for artistic souls of any caliber. We caught up with the Japanese master over email in between takes of his new film venture currently in production to discover the drive behind the gallery, his love for Berlin and get an insight into what makes Murakami happy.

berlin art journal: This is the first gallery outside Japan, why Berlin?

Takashi Murakami: I happened one day to found myself visiting Anselm Reyle's studio in Berlin. His studio has this wonderful, sure-to-go-down-in-history quality to it, almost as if it were a movie set. I was very moved.

In the course of my discussions with him, we then went into town for dinner and the atmosphere of the city was just amazing. There was a mood to it that I can't put into words and I decided then and there that I wanted to do something in Berlin. If I were ten years younger, I'm positive I would have built a studio there but now, with my body in the shape that it is (ie, the only thing that keeps it from falling completely apart is Japanese food), I decided to share the air hear by building a gallery.

When I told Anselm my idea, he was very supportive. He even introduced me to a real estate agent and lawyer, providing me all sorts of advice. His wife, the architect Tanja Lincke was also kind enough to help us reform the interior. All in all, I owe Anselm and his family a lot.

So you could say that the reason for opening the space was the wonderful mood of the city itself and the wonderful introduction I received from Anselm and family.

baj: Does the opening of the Berlin branch mark any milestone—is this the beginning of further development. I.e. entry into Europe, perhaps?

TM: After a lot of time working in this business, I have come to a realization. Meeting young artists and working together with them, as if in a marriage, is my greatest source of happiness.

baj: What is the programme focused on? Will it have a special Berlin-specific roster, or will it be in continuation of the other Hidari Zingaro locations
TM: In order to establish the gallery's identity, I think we will first need to introduce work by the Japanese and Asian artists whom we already associate with. Over time, we will then settle in to life in Berlin, make connections there with artists who share our sensibilities, and then hold exhibitions for those artists.

baj: What is the place of this particular space in contemporary culture, what's the aim of the gallery? (this comes from the fact that the space is far from the normal commercial gallery "zones" in the city).

TM: I don't imagine us becoming a radical operation. I think it will be local and somewhat homely.

Hidari Zingaro Berlin is currently showing "ob, JNTHED, Haruka Makita" on exhibit until July 28.

[Image: Installation view "ob, JNTHED, Haruka Makita," courtesy Hidari Zingaro]