The painting is informed by 18th century painters Soga Shohaku and Ito Jakuchu. Shohaku believed in reaching for new and alternative truths in picture making by imitating existing forms or styles and imbuing them with new essence. Murakami follows this belief, here using figures and motifs directly taken from Shohaku’s painting ‘Gunsenzu’, or ‘Immortals’ (1764), itself an imitation of an older version, which depicts Taoist hermits with magical powers. On the far left (my photo on the left), a hermit in blue riding a dragon; the hermit on the far right who holds a baby (middle picture); and the potbellied hermit leaning on a frog are but a few motifs Murakami appropriates from ‘Immortals’. However, the painting is unmistakably Murakami’s, reminiscent of contemporary Japanese cartooning and culture though rooted century’s old traditions.
In the Broad contemporary art museum in LA there is a massive eighty-foot-long painting by Takashi Murakami from Japan titled ‘In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow'. You can see it in my picture. It looked very impressive to me, probably mainly because of its size and very busy, colourful theme. I read the description and that’s what it says (I don’t fully understand it, but maybe you will):
I am your dad Atria.