Essay – In Workbook Format (Differs from Word version due to Formatting issues).

19 Jan

Assignment 1: Art Gallery Exhibition Task – Curator’s Perspective

Name: Josh Fry      Candidate Number: FRY11122523

This proposal aims to consider for dual exhibit the works of two contemporary artists, Maxim Zhestkov and Takeshi Murakami.  The suggested blend could offer a visual journey to the viewer that is rich in contrast but one that has a sense of sameness as the pieces culminate in an unexpected intensity of colour and purpose.

Russian Zhestkov is an artist who creates beautiful, surreal, sterile environments that initially invoke feelings of serenity and calm. Many pieces consist of objects or shapes that are black and white; this creative choice is defined and purposeful, creating an environment that is somehow dislocated and unhinged from reality. Zhestkov uses this chromatic contrast, perhaps exploring polarity because he believes that ‘black and white are the most distant from each other’s points’ (Sordokhonov, 2010). He also suggests that ‘the maximum contrast in emotions and in visual perception occurs in border areas’ (Sordokhonov, 2010). This indicates his level of consciousness in the artistic choices made and his awareness of the potency of working in the periphery to achieve impact.

Recursion is a prime example of Zhestkov’s work creating a sterile, almost sci-fi setting. That sterility appears to be under attack from some form of infestation as the piece progresses artistically; perhaps Zhestkov is examining the idea that perfection is just a constructed reality as his symmetrical, seemingly flawless space is affected (or perhaps infected) and overrun by imperfection .

Zhestkov, in a number of his pieces, seems to work in an immaculate space. This is visible too in his work Signal. This piece emits tension between the audio and visual elements setting a scene that represents the possibilities of mankind – yet the dehumanisation of the world as we know it. This is perhaps because the technology seems to run itself, leaving no room for human error or imperfection. The name Signal however indicates that this is a form of connection between the physical yet unseen transactions of information now used in the present – but in a form that transcends human technology. This piece is almost a demonstration of the capabilities of communication technology.

Zhestkov’s use of sound in his pieces contributes greatly to the successful immersion of the viewer. The audio used often resonates with the visuals being displayed in a manner that invokes feelings of tension or eeriness (in Signal). The sound floods the senses with its fluid and serene composition and arguably plays a huge role setting the mood and compliments the scenario perfectly. Zhestkov has said ‘Sound is a separate dimension… so amazing to work with visual and move to the audio. You feel your organs of perception shifting in very strange ways’ (Sordokhonov, 2010). It seems that the world of video based art has endless possibilities to incorporate sound and visual media which Zhestkov embraces.

Japanese Takashi Murakami, by comparison, is an artist that specialises in the wholly surreal, the weird and wonderful. His works are vibrant, rich in composition and traverse the boundaries of reality. The works of Murakami and Zhestkov are polar opposites in many ways but their styles resonate. The fluidity of Zhestkov’s precise work contrasts well with the chaotic energy resonating in Murakami’s. The use of colour by both artists is completely different; Murakami opts for a lively palette of colour with lines and shapes free flowing throughout his compositions. His use of creatures and irregular shapes defines his style as does Zhestkov’s clean and calculated style, with its textures and additions that add a flare of irregularity to his narrative with his use of colour selectively permeating the chromatic palette.

Murakami’s Superflat Monogram short film is the perfect example of his artistic range, the animation incorporates a number of his designs. It places his work into a moving environment which demonstrates in a different medium the elegance and vibrancy of his ‘Superflat’ style whereby he ‘captures the flattened forms of Japanese art’ (McCutcheon, 2009). His use of colour here, by contrast to his other pieces, is selective and much akin to Zhestkov’s. The grey insipid background of the presented ‘reality’ contrasts to the vivacious colour rich ‘surreality’ he creates as the piece progresses. The sound choice is interesting too; it is quirky and rhythmic, arguably at odds with the initial narrative but works better when the portal to the surreal emerges and Murakami’s creative conventions are released.

The commercial aspect of its Louis Vuitton branding is a subtle but persistent aspect of his work, much as Zhestkov’s Nokia shows the commercialisation of his art too – perhaps stretching the boundaries of what is traditionally classified as Art.  Murakami has been called ‘the Japanese Andy Warhol’ (Gingeras, 2011) perhaps as his work resonates with the commercial and ‘pop art’ feel of Warhol’s. Though Murakami apparently does not fully agree with this perspective, he suggests he has tried to ‘question the lines drawn between East and West’ (Kaikai Kiki Co. Ltd., [no date]).

Murakami is trying to ‘translate or make accessible this deep Japanese-ness to non-Japanese audiences’ (Gingeras, 2011) and as such is portraying his inimitable talent as a visual communicator where the language is his work; its depth and texture, potency of colour, composition and the deeply integrated meaning in his pieces. His creations such as Tan Tan Bo (2001), Super Nova (1999) and Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow, Blue and Death (2010) have meanings behind them that arguably draw from the very lifeblood of Japanese culture.

In terms of their exposure thus far, it has been extensive for Murakami, his iconic images have appeared in galleries globally from the Rockefeller Centre in New York, right across Europe to Cape Town and beyond (Kaikai Kiki Co. Ltd.,[no date]) showing his enduring appeal. By contrast, the talent of Zhestkov is less well represented though through online promotion and projects like Advanced Beauty, it is evident that it exists and is ongoing (Advanced Beauty, 2008).

It seems that the digital art representations explored in the works of Takashi Murakami and Maxim Zhestkov – though different – have some striking similarities. In particular, through the digital process, Zhestkov arrives at the chaos of Murakami’s beginnings. Both artists replicate forms throughout their work which fill up the void and create a tension that needs to be responded to. The visual turmoil in Murakami’s work juxtaposes with Zhestkov’s calculated precision; their starting points are polar opposites but their paths often cross in the fluidity of ‘art’. Arguably these artists both complement each other in terms of the point of culmination yet contrast when viewed together at their point of origin; considering these factors, Murakami and Zhestkov would be perfect for concurrent exhibition.

(Word Count 1100)



Advanced Beauty (2008) Advanced Beauty.

Available at: (Accessed: 28th November 2011).


Gagosian Gallery (2010) Takashi Murakami.

Available at: (Accessed: 6th November 2011).

Gingeras, Alison (2011) Art Takashi Murakami.

Available at: (Accessed: 5th November 2011).

Howe, Jeff (2003) The Two Faces of Takashi Murakami.

Available at: (Accessed: 10th November 2011).

Ikono (2011) The Breathtaking Space Minimalism of Maxim Zhestkov.

Available at: 3rd November 2011).

Kaikai Kiki Co.Ltd [no date] Takashi Murakami.

Available at: (Accessed: 2nd November).

Matsui, Midori (2008 and 1998) Takashi Murakami, 1998.

Available at: (Accessed: 10th November 2011).

McCutcheon, Maggie (2009) Format Presents Takashi Murakami A Retrospective. Available at: (Accessed: 10th November 2011).

mmminimal (2011) Advanced Beauty by Maxim Zhestkov.

Available at: (Accessed: 20th November 2011).


Available at: (Accessed: 19th November 2011).

Origami Cupcake (2011) Takashi Murakami’s Superflat Monogram and more…. Available at: (Accessed: 20th November 2011).

Paranoias (2011) Advanced Beauty by Maxim Zhestkov.

Available at: (Accessed: 2nd November 2011).

Parker, A. David (2011) Takashi Murakami “How I made it”.

Available at: (Accessed: 10th November 2011).

Pinkas, Lee (2010) Maxim Zhestkov: As In A Dream.

Available at: (Accessed: 2nd November 2011).

Sordokhonov, Igor (2010). Maxim Zhestkov “Recursion”.

Available at: (Accessed: 2nd November 2011).

Zhestkov, Maxim [no date] Maxim Zhestkov.

Available at: (Accessed: 2nd November 2011).


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