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Paint it red! That is the emblem of freedom!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Kaiyodo’s famous catch phrase “Zero sen ha Akaku Nure” (“Paint the Zero Red,” coined by current Kaiyodo Museum Director Osamu Miyawaki).

As Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises” builds dominance over the box office charts and much of the conversation taking place in Japan at the moment, there has been some criticism from
fighter plane enthusiasts on the appearance of the Zero in the film. This is especially true of the plane’s coloring, prompting snorts of “there’s no way that a Zero would have been designed with that color,” and in pre-release interviews,Hayao Miyazaki stated that he was fully aware that he would be criticized, showing just how committed he is to his own ideals of creative freedom (see “Kazutoshi Hando to Miyazaki Hayao no Koshi Nuke Aikoku Taidan,” published by Bunshun Ghibli bunko ). The argument against the film seems to be that despite being about the life of a real historical figure, Jiro Horikoshi, the story takes several drastic creative liberties.
The opponents ask: what do the filmmakers hope to accomplish by distorting history?

One answer to that question was offered up nearly thirty years ago. It can be found in the words of Kaiyodo founder Osamu Miyawaki. These days, Kaiyodo have made their name as a figure production company but in the past, they were better known as a plastic model shop located in the center of town. it was Miyawaki’s imagination, contrarian nature, and vitality that led him to rechristen the plastic model as a work of art and build his company into the most profitable model maker in Japan.

“Even when dealing with plastic models, if you assemble them with freedom and imagination, they cease to be models built according to a set of rules and begin moving down the path of artistic expression,” Miyawaki wrote in a 1972 Kaiyodo promotional magazine. The cover of that magazine can be seen below: “Hobby he no sasoi: Yamamoto-kun he no Tegami”.

This same sentiment was also expressed in a different form on Miyawaki’s blog in 2009:
I was astonished to learn that at one point, Osamu Miyawaki made his living by importing plastic models of boats from abroad, painting them, and then selling selling them for 300,000 yen a piece as interior decorative items to the architectural offices that began swelling during the real estate bubble 50 years ago. The lesson to be learned from this is that much of what see before us are things which conform to pre-existing guidelines, but if we use our imagination to recreate them, our efforts can result in works of individual expression that will then be assigned a higher value. As for why I choose to mention this now, I happened to be reading the aforementioned interview with Miyazaki and my thoughts wandered to Miyawaki’s “Paint it red” and the recent trends in my own work.

Below is a past painting I created called “Red Flower Ball (3-D)”. It was painted as a contribution for an auction which took place in conjunction the RED project led by U2’s bono.
Red Flower Ball (3-D), 2013

This painting was very popular at the auction itself (where all proceeds went to charity) and recently, I was confronted with the question of whether or not to release it as a screen print poster. The news on that at item can be seen here:

It goes without saying that artists are given all sorts of unusual opportunities to create new pieces and it is from there that they begin following their inspiration, but in thinking of whether or not to revisit this work of mine that had already been well received, I happened to be reading the reviews of “The Wind Rises,” thought back to Kaiyodo in a game of association, and then decided that I should move forward with the project.

However, the real work begins from there. I didn’t want to simply make another Red Flower Ball, I wanted to make a work that would ask questions of people in the following manner:

1. The Red Flowerball series was well received upon release.

2. If I release posters for the series, they will sell well.

3. However, Osamu Miyawaki’s “Paint it red” slogan was not meant to imply anything as simple as “everything should be painted red”. The message is that we should try to find some form of new creative expression within us.

4. If that’s the case, then what would happen if I sold posters from the Red Flowerball Series in the same manner as a plastic model kit? In other words, we will not show people the completed work at the time of the sale. The only guarantee will be that it is a red Flower Ball.

5. This creates a distorted form of presentation in which the user does not know the finished state of the work they are buying.

6. In other words, those who make the purchase are not paying for the work themselves but for the expectation of what it will become, much like a stock or security.

Red Flower Ball (3-D), 2013

In summary: In the spirit of Osamu Miyawaki’s “Paint it Red,” we aim to translate my old Red Flowerball Series into a conceptual project to encourage awareness of creative expression. I believe this is the first time anything like this has been tried in the art scene.

Takashi Murakami’s “Paint it Red” project will be unveiled on August 31, at Hidari Zingaro on the third floor of Nakano Broadway.
I’m sure that to for Japan’s art critics (speaking of which, I’m beginning to get the same critical glares in the pottery world as well… hrmm…),
my movements will look like nothing more than a giant target for criticism but I am confident that this will go down as a significant performance in my artistic history.
I hope that those reading this will want to take part in that history as well.

Takashi Murakami’s “Paint it Red” Project, coming to Hidari Zingaro soon!!!
And in the midst of all this excitement and preparation, we actually missed our deadline and had to delay this week’s sale until next week.
For those of you who were looking forward to it, I do apologize.

– Takashi Murakami