Aya Takano, the meteorite

24 août 2017

Aya Takano is one of those aesthetes who make the Contemporary Art as accessible as it enigmatic. The artist has settled in an open breach between noble Art and popular creation.

Soft manga

At first sight, her artworks looks like mangas as one finds thousands in Japan. But while leaning closer to the canvases, the spectator begins a real astral journey in an "esthetico-narrative" universe so powerful and deep. Anyone who crosses the eyes of her “daughters” with the graceful and long silhouettes feels irremediably drawn towards the elastic, fluid and flexible world in which they swim. Flexibility is the breadth of Takano's work. Even gigantic, her paintings always seem too narrow for the worlds, the women-children and the animals that she depicts. Bodies, things and landscapes must show all their flexibility to comply with the special physical laws enacted by Aya Takano's brushes. They then take on a soft, aqueous appearance of gelatin and create an unstable civilization similar to the one described in her 186-page manga, almost logically called "The Jelly Civilization Chronicle."

"Since I was a little girl, I feel a bit out of place with everything around me, including familiar objects, and they always seemed too square, too hard, too sharp, and too slippery. The caterpillars, the water, the water fleas in close-up: this is what I found of extreme beauty. Today I still like pasty and translucent things, with indeterminate forms: houses, spoons or cars seem to me brutal, badly rough." Elucubrations? Delusions of an incomprehensible artist, as well for herself? With a playing eye, Aya Takano tells that look into the clouds excite her more than to make love and quotes among her inspirations surprising and heterogeneous references: Salvador Dalí, Auguste Renoir, Italian Renaissance, Expressionism, Viennese Secession, the animes, the Ukiyo-e but also the shunga of the Edo period. But where does the Takano meteorite come from?

Kaikai Kiki?

Aya Takano was born on 22 December 1976 in Saitama at the gates of Tokyo. The daughter of a piano teacher and a bookseller, she spent her childhood studying books of natural science and science fiction. The fantastic animals and landscapes associated with the urban universes will be recurring themes of her works where she will skillfully mix the future and the fantasy. After studying art history at the Tama Art University in Tokyo and working as a designer in Nintendo studios, she sees her career take on a whole new dimension. Resolutely an artist of her time, she permeated her work with all the influences of popular culture while respecting the noble and established Art. What earned her to be spotted by the artist who put Japan on the contemporary map of the world Art: Takashi Murakami. King of Neo Pop, a colossus of the art market, Murakami, who has implanted his small colorful and smiling flowers under the golds of the Château de Versailles in 2010 no longer needs to be presented. An innovator of altruistic character, he founded his own workshop-company in the late 1980s under the name of Hiropon Factory, which changed its name in 2001 to become the Kaikai Kiki Corporation. Kaikai Kiki? This term initially characterizes the work of Kano Eitoku (1543-1590), a classical Japanese painter of the sixteenth century, and would be roughly translated as a mixture of the grotesque and the fantastic. Defined more condescendingly by "Japanese piffles". 

With the power of Master Murakami, the KKC works to make permeable the boundaries between the different practices (illustration, fashion, cinema, painting etc.), between traditions and modernity, between Japanese folklore and globalized images. Art collectors, children, lost teenagers or savvy adults, no one is forgotten by the productions of this real box of wonders.

Murakami and Fukushima

Admired by Takashi Murakami in the early 2000s, who encouraged her to paint her little girls on canvas, she saw a rare windfall. "In high school and then at university, I found mangas, digital arts, design and fashion photography more modern than painting, and that's why I got involved in that direction. Takashi Murakami taught me how to paint on a canvas - and I got into it without much enthusiasm. I was 19 at the time and later agreed to produce a personal exhibition [in 1997 in Tokyo] of my works, and the paintings were sold well, and then I became a professional of painting, if we can say so. "

Aya Takano follows her master Murakami on the manga paths with an artistic dimension: the same saturation of images, the same overabundance of colors and decorative elements, even libertinage - kitsch is one of the contemporary artistic signs of globalization. But her stroke is softer, more elastic, and more flexible than the one of Murakami. Aya Takano has developed in parallel a quasi-fusional link to her Art, her tools, her techniques and her ingredients. "I have a real passion for watercolor, brushes and drawing paper. I started with watercolor, then adopted oil painting in high school, before abandoning it at 19 years for acrylic,closer to watercolor on the canvas. After the 11th of March 2011 [date of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe], shocked, I began to refuse the unnatural things. My food taste have changed and my style of dressing too. Also the acrylic was not good for me anymore, so I went back to the oil painting.”

Takano's work is in perpetual motion, and the artist continually pursues her experiments: "I like crushing and rubbing the brush against the canvas, it runs and leaves a trace." Aya Takano, along with other artists from the Kaikai Kiki Corporation serai such as Chiho Aoshima, Mr., Chinatsu Ban, Rei Sato or Akane Koide, is carrying the Japanese banner planted by Murakami. She topographies a better world, fabulous mixture between human, plant and mineral. A gelatinous, sensitive, sweet, but also acid and sometimes even violent world that certainly does not exist. But is it not the characteristic of an artist to turn reality into a dream, however strange it may be?