Takashi Murakami on the Art World: 'Full of Zombies'

Murakami at Miami Basel in 2013. (Getty Images)

Murakami at Miami Basel in 2013. (Getty Images)

Kicking off the festivities this week surrounding Art Basel Hong Kong, the Asia Society on Monday night held a gala dinner at the Conrad hotel, honoring the artists Bharti Kher, Liu Guosong, Takashi Murakami and Zhang Xiaogang.

When it was his turn to accept the honor, Mr. Murakami gave a rather unusual speech.

“I have three galleries and every day there’s some money issue,” he began. “I employ 200 people. Every day: very painful days, you understand.”

His speech was apparently meant to bring light to “the market condition.” His take? We are all zombies.

“What is a zombie?” he asked rhetorically. “A human dies and continues to move afresh. The art world today is a world full of such zombies.”

He later added, “Those zombies are falling in love.”

After the speech Gallerist asked Mr. Murakami, Who, precisely, are these zombies? He pointed to himself. “Me!” he exclaimed, then elaborated: “Everyone in the business.”