Aya Takano

Aya Takano’s drawings and oil paintings share playful visions of a future free from social constraints.

Takano is known for her delicately painted works that depict youthful, wide-eyed female figures. She belongs to Kaikai Kiki, a collective of Japanese artists founded in 2001 by pop art icon Takashi Murakami; and is also considered an important figure of Superflat, a contemporary movement that draws influence from modern day consumerist aesthetics and traditional Japanese art forms.

  • Unio Mystica, solo show at Galerie Perrotin, New York, 2019
  • The Jelly Civilization Chronicle, solo show at Galerie Perrotin, Paris, 2017
  • Garden of Painting - Japanese Art of the 00s, group show at The National Museum of Art, Osaka, 2010
  • Reintegrating Worlds, solo show at Skarstedt Gallery, New York, 2009
  • Hiropon Show, group show at White Cube Gallery, London, 2001
©️2021 Aya Takano/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Niko Wu
Aya Takano
©️2021 Aya Takano/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Niko Wu

Takano’s figures are brought to life in soft lines and muted hues, positioned in surroundings that merge the ordinary and dreamlike. The compositions often depict sexual encounters with animals, partly inspired by erotic Shunga art from Edo Japan. Takano also draws from classical literature, mythology, science-fiction and folklore, as well as manga artists such as Osamu Tezuka and Western Impressionism. She sees her work in lineage from 70s Shōjo manga, which was founded on notions of feminine strength and power.

The Bride and her Five Husbands, Aya Takano, 2019.
©️2019 Aya Takano/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy of Galerie Perrotin. Photo: Guillaume Ziccarelli.

Takano reclaims highly gendered cultural codes with an overtly feminine perspective. For example, The Bride and her Five Husbands (2019) depicts a story taken from Indian mythology. A mountain looms in the background of a city street as a female protagonist reclines on an ostrich with her five suitors floating around her, visibly entranced. As Takano says, “it looks abnormal in Western culture, but it may be normal in the unconscious world.” Thus, she interrogates cross-cultural notions of normality. If the constructed limits of normality can shift in dreams, why not in life? 


"I’ve come to think that rather than seeking heaven in external forms, I must reach heaven from inside myself."
Aya Takano Portrait
Photo: Niko Wu

Spirituality and nature are found at the heart of 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.    

Edible Plant Garments, Garden Deities by Aya Takano
Edible Plant Garments, Garden Deities, Aya Takano, 2014.
©️2014 Aya Takano/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Courtesy of Galerie Perrotin.
Princesses of the Jelly Civilization by Aya Takano
Princesses of the Jelly Civilization, Aya Takano, 2017.
©️2017 Aya Takano/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Courtesy of Galerie Perrotin.

Hierarchies between humans, animals and aliens are dissolved they interact freely and often morph into one another, suggesting a deep spiritual union between creatures epitomised in the cross-species romances she often depicts. Through her canvas, Takano constructs her own mythology with a cast of beguiling characters each in search of their own form of freedom.  

All artworks and images ©️2021 Aya Takano/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Studio shoot by Niko Wu.

Aya Takano Studio Shoot
Aya Takano Studio Shoot

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Aya Takano