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    Murakami, Malone unite in ‘flower-butterfly’ collaboration

    TOKYO (AP) – Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s visions have spanned colourful smiling flowers, a zany take on Mickey Mouse and huge sculptures of animation-inspired figures that have fetched enormous auction prices.

    His latest goes down a musical path, in collaboration with American rapper and singer Post Malone.

    “To be honest, I really began to listen to him after the pandemic struck, and we were stuck at home all day. I became a big fan,” Murakami said, referring to the social restrictions and emotional stress that came with COVID-19.

    Murakami created various artworks and products, featured in a pop-up store in Los Angeles, during Malone’s tour for his latest album, Twelve Carat Toothache.

    The custom-designed T-shirts, hoodies and trucker hats, as well as mugs and other goods, are also available online, starting Monday, at the NTWRK, a United States shopping livestream service.

    Japanese artist Takashi Murakami and American rapper Post Malone. PHOTO: AP

    Malone’s music gets him humming along, like karaoke, filling him with a positive feeling, he said in an online interview with The Associated Press.

    “It’s mellow, yet the sound is complex. It’s at the height of hip hop music, yet it’s got a real melody. I fell in love with his sound,” said Murakami.

    Typical of the spirit of their collaboration is an image that places Murakami’s flower image next to the butterfly, Malone’s symbol, to become two eyes over a curve: a smiley face that winks.

    “It’s a flower and a butterfly, like a marriage,” said Murakami.

    Malone expressed delight at the collaborative pieces in a video of their meeting earlier this month.

    Murakami has collaborated with other musicians, including Pharrell Williams and Drake. Hip hop, dance music and other contemporary American music are important sources of inspiration for Murakami. He often plays music when he is drawing to get “his brain juices going”, he said.

    But when his business was on verge of bankruptcy, right after the pandemic started, he was listening to Rachmaninoff all the time. As time passed, people opened up to investing and even sought art as part of the healing process. Sales jumped and his business recovered, Murakami recalled.

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