When I was in Paris, my favorite gallery visit is always GALLERIE PERROTIN. This is where I first came across the work of AYA TAKANO. I have always enjoyed anime and was interested in the thoughts behind it. Sometimes, one could look at it and consider it too much a cartoon,
but for me, I find it inspiring. The images, the colors and the subjects.
I hope you enjoy this post!
With inspirations varying from 14th Century Italian religious painting to alien evidence to MTV, Takano’s worlds are shiny and futuristic, yet soft and full of traditional and sensual imagery. Her drawings and paintings in which lively, female characters float and contort their waiflike bodies, convey a passionate drive toward creation.
In Japan, Takano is prolific as a manga artist, illustrator, and science fiction essayist. She has several serialized publications, and is regularly featured in subculture articles. In the art markets of Europe and America, her paintings and drawings are enthusiastically received.
Takano spent her childhood rummaging through her father’s library which consisted of many books on the natural sciences, but also science fiction. Ever present in her work are exotic animals and landforms combined with an urban city to show the juxtaposition between future and fantasy. Takano cited in a documentary made by
Another early influence for her was manga writer Osamu Tezuka’s science fiction, which had a lasting impact on her dreamy perception of the world. She cites in the book Drop Dead Cute by Joan Vartanian how she really believed everything she read was true till she was nineteen. Takano states even sometimes now she imagines possessing
the ability to fly, uninterested in the constrictions of being grounded.
When it was time for her to start thinking about college Takano told her parents she wouldn’t attend unless she was allowed to enter an art program. She received a B.A. from Tama Art University in Tokyo in 2000. Soon after she became an assistant for leading Japanese Contemporary Artist Takashi Murakami. He would become
Takano’s first mentor and jump start her career.
Murakami was looking to exhibit the work of young artists and wanted to help create an artistic community for like minded artists who did the Superflat style. The Superflat movement, popularized by Murakami himself is about emphasizing the two dimensionality of figures, which is influenced by Japanses manga and anime,
while dually exposing the fetishes of Japanese consumerism. Through the basic ideas of this movement he created the Kaikai Kiki Co., a group where five out of the seven members are women.
In the 1980s the look of pre-pubescent girls became the target of consumer culture in Japanese society. This infantilization and objectification of the female was seen most heavily in Japan’s otaku, or geek culture.
Japanese female artists like Takano seek to reinvent the otaku culture through a feminine perspective. Takano in particular is interested in depicting how the future will impact the role of the female heroine in society. Her figures, often androgynous float through her alternate realities partially clothed or sometimes fully nude. Yet,
Takano denies that she is trying to reveal anything specific about sex. Rather with the slim bodies, bulbous heads, and large eyes she is trying to emphasize that her figures temporary suspension from adulthood. The red paint in the crevices of the figures’ elbows, knees, and shoulders is supposed to convey that they are still engaged in
the growing process mentally and physically. Takano’s playful and ambiguous visions of the future, especially one which revolves around the feminine serves as a way for her to create her own mythology, free from the chains of reality.