Aya Takano

Playful visions of a future free from social constraints.

Aya Takano was born in 1976 in Saitama, Japan, and now lives and works in Tokyo.


Shortly after graduating she became an assistant for Japanese Superflat pioneer Takashi Murakami, and is now a member of his artistic production studio, Kaikai Kiki.

Did you know?

Alongside her artistic practice, Takano has published numerous manga novels and essays on science fiction - seeing doubtless contributing to her significant online following.

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Collaborations with this artist

Practice overview

Aya Takano's drawings and paintings share personal and quietly political visions of freedom. Her signature wide-eyed figures are delicately rendered in soft lines and muted hues with watercolor, graphite and oil. She sees her work in lineage from 70s Shōjo manga (girl comics), founded on an ethos of feminine strength and power. Classical literature, folklore, science-fiction and Western Impressionism are also important influences for the artist. Throughout the works, recognisable motifs like architecture and urban space blend with dreamlike perspectives in order to challenge notions of ‘normality.’ “It looks abnormal in Western culture, but it may be normal in the unconscious world.” Thus, the artist poses a pertinent question: if the constructed limits of normality can shift in dreams, why are they often so rigid in society?

Spirituality and nature are essential to Takano’s practice. In March 2011, a violent tsunami struck the north-eastern coasts of Japan and led to a serious nuclear accident in Fukushima. This had a profound impact on Takano’s art and life, prompting her to move away from acrylic to more naturally composed oil paint. At this point, she also chose to refocus her work on humanity’s connection with nature. Hierarchies between humans, animals and aliens dissolved - epitomised in the cross-species romances and sexual encounters littered throughout her work, partly inspired by erotic Shunga art from Edo Japan. Ultimately, Takano uses the canvas to construct her own mythology - a cast of beguiling characters each in search of their own form of transcendence.

“I think that reconnecting with nature will bring us a better world.”Aya Takano