Aya Takano - A Night Walk - A Pink Moon Emerged (detail)

Aya Takano

Japan 1976

Pop Surrealism, Superflat

Aya Takano
Aya Takano
March 30, 2014
Ok, I know it's so damn corny to quote somebody just to describe yourself, let alone Confucius, but this quote says all about my relationship with Widewalls, so forgive me for doing this: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Am I forgiven?

When one artist’s inspiration roams between 14th Century Italian religious painting, MTV aesthetics and alien evidence, the final product must be worthy of attention. That is the case with the artwork created by Japanese artist Aya Takano, born in a city of Saitama – first mentioned in the famous 8th-century poetry anthology Man’yōshū. She grew up in this ancient city surrounded by her father’s natural science and science fiction library, which explains her unique style and curiosity towards the future. Aya creates her manga work in Superflat style, popularized by Murakami.

World where pre-pubescent girls are targeted by the consumer culture

gallery exhibitions museum 2006
Aya Takano – Untitled, 2002

Murakami as Takano’s Mentor and Kaikai Kiki Co.

Aya used to read a lot in her childhood and she even said once how she thought that everything she read was true until she was nineteen! Talking about the imagination! Even now, Takano indulges her fantasies, letting herself think she possesses the ability to fly. There was no way this kind of girl would study anything else but art, and Takano made that clear to her parents. So, Aya Takano received her bachelor’s degree from Tama Art University in Tokyo. Just around the time she graduated, great Murakami searched for talents among the young artists, with a goal to create the Superflat style artistic community. And this is how the Kaikai Kiki Co. was born. The method of emphasizing the two-dimensionality of figures visually based in Japanese manga and anime and combined with the fetishes of consumerism soon became popular worldwide and the Kaikai Kiki Co, counting seven members (five of them – women) started creating a universe of its own. Of course, one of those five women was Takano. Not long after Murakami met Takano and saw her work, she found herself being this artist’s assistant. Murakami was more than willing to be the mentor of an artist with such a unique imagination so he quickly jump-started her career.

Fascination by any unusual form of nature and animal life

gallery exhibitions museum 2006
Aya Takano – That Inn, 2003

Reinventing the Otaku Culture

Aya Takano transmitted onto her works her ever-growing fascination by any unusual form of nature or animal life, clearly identified in her works where she presents many exotic animals and plants. This approach of twisted reality soon gained a public of her own, attracted by the infantilization and objectification of the female – one of Takano’s regular themes, besides the senseless Japanese consumerism that grew to become a fetish itself. However, it wasn’t Takano who invented this combination where pre-pubescent girls are being a target of the consumer culture. So-called Otaku culture, mainly centered at the Akihabara district in Tokyo, was the fertile soil for this kind of fetish. Manga and anime obsession helped the members of this group to alienate almost completely from reality, creating a world of their own. The world where infantilization and objectification of the female were something completely normal and beyond acceptable.

Takano’s androgynous figures are female heroines in society

gallery exhibitions museum 2006
Aya Takano – May All Things Dissolve in the Ocean of Bliss, 2014

Takano CAN Fly, only not the Way she Always Thought she Might

Takano’s figures are often androgynous, playing a role of female heroine in society. She strongly dissociates from any sexual connotation, even though her females are usually only partially clothed or even fully nude. Takano claims that her aim is to reinvent the entire otaku culture, this time only through the feminine perspective. Her heroines are still growing, finding themselves on the border between the adulthood and childhood, and the red dots on their elbows, knees, and shoulders, together with their bulbous heads, and large eyes prove that they are still in the process of growing, both physically and mentally.

Today, a girl who still thinks from time to time she can fly, is a well-known manga artist, illustrator, and science fiction author. Outside Japan, the world enthusiastically embraced her somewhat odd universe, following closely Takano’s new works, waiting for her strange-looking girls to lighten up their world.

She is represented by Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art from Miami and Galerie Perrotin from Hong Kong.

Aya Takano lives and works in Japan.

Featured image: Aya Takano – A Night Walk – A Pink Moon Emerged * (detail). 23 1/5 × 19 7/10 in. 59 × 50 cm. Edition of 300. This is part of a limited edition set. Photo courtesy Perrotin
Artworks images © Aya Takano/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy Galerie Perrotin

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2011Aya TakanoSieboldHuis, Leiden, NetherlandsSolo
2010Rooms of the WorldKaikai Kiki Gallery, Taipei, TaiwanSolo
2010Aya TakanoMuseum Frieder Burda, BadenSolo
2010Hong Kong Art FairBooth Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Hong KongSolo
2009Reintegrating WorldsSkarstedt Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2008Aya TakanoGalerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, FranceSolo
2007Wild dogs, hawks, owls, cats, a landfill the size of 44 and a half Tokyo Domes, the stratosphere Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Miami, FLSolo
2006Aya TakanoMusée d'Art Contemporain, Lyon, FranceSolo
2006City DogParco Museum, Tokyo, Japan; Parco Gallery, Nagoya, Aichi, JapanSolo
2005Frieze Art FairLondonSolo
2005The Far Reaches of The UniverseMy Garden Blum & Poe Gallery, Santa Monica, CASolo
2004Aya Takano, a web project for Digital GalleryMuseum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CASolo
2004Naoki Takizawa for Issey Miyake, 2004/5 Autumn Winter CollectionParis, Tokyo (collaboration)Solo
2003Aya TakanoGalerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, FranceSolo
2002Space Ship EENano Galerie, Paris, FranceSolo
2000Hot Banana FudgeNADiff, Tokyo, JapanSolo
1997SHU WA KIMASERIshop33, Tokyo, JapanSolo
2010Garden of Painting Japanese Art of the 00sThe National Museum of Art, OsakaGroup
2009VRAOUM!La Maison Rouge, Paris, FranceGroup
2008Quando vidas se tornam forma,Panorama da arte contemporanea brasileira e japonesaMuseu de Arte Moderna, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2008Kaikai Kiki ArtistsKaikai Kiki Gallery, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2007The Door into Summer: The Age of MicropopArt Tower Mito, Ibaraki, JapanGroup
2006EtoileXavel, Inc. (Virtual department store design)Group
2006Aya Takano, Chiho Aoshima, Chinatsu Ban ExhibitionMizuho Oshiro Gallery, Kagoshima, JapanGroup
2006Spank the MonkeyBaltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UKGroup
2005Geoup ShowAoi Gallery, Osaka, JapanGroup
2005Japan PopHelsinki Museum of Art, Helsinki, FinlandGroup
2005The Sensual LineMuseum der Moderne Salzburg, Salzburg, AustriaGroup
2005Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding SubcultureJapan Society, New York, NY (curated by Takashi Murakami)Group
2005MTA Subway Poster DesignPublic Art Fund and Japan Society, New York, NYGroup
2005What’s Good ConferenceHong Kong Art Centre, Hong Kong (Lecture)Group
2005Group ShowGalerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, FranceGroup
2004T JunctionGalerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, FranceGroup
2004Fiction. Love: Ultra New Vision in Contemporary ArtMuseum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, TaiwanGroup
2004Chiho Aoshima, Mr., Aya TakanoGalerie Emmanuel Perrotin at LFL Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2004Tokyo Girls BravoMarianne Boesky Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2003Girls Don’t CryParco Gallery, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2003Naoki Takizawa for Issey MiyakeTokyo, JapanGroup
2003Hope, The Future is in Our HandsLaForet Harajuku, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2002The Japanese Experience, InevitableDas Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Salzburg, AustriaGroup
2002Tokyo Girls Bravo 2NADiff, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2002Chiho Aoshima, Aya Takano, Mr., Takashi MurakamiGalerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, FranceGroup
2001SuperflatMuseum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WAGroup
2001Hiropon ShowWhite Cube Gallery, London, UK; Shinsaibashi Parco, Osaka, JapanGroup
2001Yokai FestivalMuseum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2000Superflatcurated by Takashi Murakami, Parco Gallery, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1999Tokyo Girls BravoNADiff, Tokyo; Parco Gallery, Nagoya, JapanGroup
1999Hiropon ShowParco Gallery, Nagoya, JapanGroup
1999Hiropon 32/80NADiff, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1998Ero Pop ChristmasNADiff, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1998Hiropon ShowGeorge’s, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1997Hiropon Showshop33, Tokyo; Iwataya ZGroup
1997Hiropon ShowManken Gallery, Kanazawa, JapanGroup