If Aya Takano’s work is familar it could be you recognise the Japanese artists style from her cover work for Japanese pop group M-flo. Skarstedt Gallery is pleased to announce Reintegrating Worlds, the first New York solo exhibition by Japanese artist Aya Takano. The show is comprised of fifteen new paintings, all created this year for the exhibition.
In her latest body of work, Takano continues to develop her own unique visual style by combining traditional Japanese imagery with those derived from science fiction, as well as impressions of modern Japan. More specifically, many of the works in Reintegrating Worlds are inspired by the cultures of the Amami Oshima Islands off the coast of Southern Japan and the ancient Ainu people. Derived from the traditions of these early hunter-gathering societies, Takano’s paintings depict images of figures, animals and sea creatures interacting together in a highly imaginative landscape. Her signature long-limbed young girls are still evident levitating in space and participating in ritualistic activities that are both erotic and utopian.
Says Takano, “Lately, I’ve come to live in closer proximity to animals and the feeling hit me suddenly that humans and animals used to be much closer – we depended on them for food, shelter, and transport, or at the very least shared those things with them. There used to be more of them around us.”
Takano incorporates indigenous motifs informed by photographs from Sakyo Komatsu’s field guide of the world’s ethnicities. Adorned with tribal masks, headdresses, and tattoos, the figures display vestiges of primal customs and rituals as they are swimming, playing, and working in nature. As in her earlier works, Takano’s new paintings express particular moods in a cartoon-like manner as the figures lack anatomical details, as well as due to the painting’s continually shifting perspective. Each scene is overflowing with symbolic details and folkloristic aspects derived from a range of sources, which Takano has integrated seamlessly together, continuously evolving her own unique pictorial language.
Takano’s paintings also reflect her curiosity with science fiction, drawing, manga and animation. Her wide-eyed androgynous figures combine a specific contemporary stylization known in Japanese as kawaii (roughly translating in English to “cute”) along with references to ancient woodprints from the Edo period depicting geishas, samurais and Kabuki actors. Takano’s precision with line, her unique use of colors, and her ability to work quickly, has led to comparisons with Hokusai, the painter and printmaker whose work, The Great Wave, is one of the most iconic images from 18th-century Japanese art.
Takano’s multifaceted artistic practice includes, in addition to painting, illustration, manga, and science fiction writing. Concurrent with her exhibition at Skarstedt Gallery, Takano will be releasing two graphic novels: a new work entitled Cosmic Juice, as well as the English translation of Spaceship EE, originally published in Japanese.
Aya Takano was born in 1976 in Saitama, Japan. Recent major exhibitions for Takano include solo shows at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris (2008); Musee d’Art Contemporain, Lyon (2008); and Parco Museum, Tokyo (2006). In 2000, NADiff in Tokyo mounted a solo exhibition, Hot Banana Fudge, and notably, Takano was also included in the 2001 exhibition Superflat, shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California. This is her first solo exhibition with Skarstedt Gallery.