In his exploration of Las Meninas, Morimura creates new narratives by altering the positioning of the subjects both in the original composition and in the visual space of the museum. The artist first used imagery from Velázquez in 1990, when he impersonated Princess Margarita, or “The Infanta,” a portrait that appears in one photograph from this new series. In addition to the eleven personalities he assumes from Las Meninas, for the first time Morimura portrays himself, undisguised, as the artist. In his reconsideration of this iconic painting, Morimura further investigates the questions that Velázquez posed in regard to perspective, authorship, and identity.
Morimura has been working as a conceptual photographer and filmmaker for more than three decades. Through extensive use of props, costumes, makeup, and digital manipulation, the artist masterfully transforms himself into recognizable subjects, often from the Western cultural canon. Morimura has based works on seminal paintings by Frida Kahlo, Vincent Van Gogh, and Édouard Manet, and he also uses images culled from historical materials, mass media, and popular culture in his practice. His reinvention of iconic photographs and art historical masterpieces challenges the viewer’s common associations with the subjects while also commenting on Japan's complex relationship with and absorption of Western culture.