What Does the Name of Takashi Murakami’s New Berlin Gallery Mean?

Japanese Superflat founder Takashi Murakami is opening a branch of his Kaikai Kiki art company in Germany, complete with a gallery space called Hidari Zingaro Berlin. It’s the company’s first space opened outside of Japan, and it launches this week alongside Berlin Gallery Weekend. But those unfamiliar with Japanese art historical niches (Murakami has a PhD, after all) might not know where the name comes from.

As Kaikai Kiki recounts in a blog post, the name is derived from the Edo period sculptor Hidari Zingoro. “Hidari” is also the Japanese word for left, signifying the artist’s anti-social, rebellious nature (right in Japanese refers to the “establishment of social order”). “Zingoro” was derived from the word gypsy, which had began to filter into Japanese vocabulary from Europe. So the gallery is named for an independence-minded artist who was considered a genius of 17th-century Japan.

But Murakami wasn’t content to leave the gallery moniker as just a reference. He has swapped out some of the characters from Hidari Zingoro’s name to form his own remix. The “ga” in Hidari Zingaro is the character for moth, the “insect of the night.” They also used the character for wolf to replace “ro” “as a symbol of the transparent air that governs the darkness in which moths flutter.” Erudite and poetic! The Hidari Zingaro name also belongs to Kaikai Kiki’s Tokyo gallery space at Nakano Broadway and a Taipei outpost.

Image courtesy of Hidari Zingaro gallery