Ayako Rokkaku

The wild freedom of youth

Ayako Rokkaku (she/her) was born in 1982 in Chiba, Japan. She lives and works between Tokyo, Berlin, Porto and Amsterdam.


Ayako Rokkaku is entirely self taught. She never went to art school and finds joy improvising and experimenting in her studio.


In 2022 Rokkaku won the Scouts' Award at Geisai #4 – an art fair launched by trailblazing Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. She also won the prestigious Akio Goto Prize in 2006.

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Collaborations with Ayako Rokkaku

Avant Arte and Ayako Rokkaku have one upcoming collaboration.

Practice overview

Ayako Rokkaku fights against the mundanity of adulthood. Her paintings are innocent, imaginative and dreamlike. Intense, vibrant colours swirl together to show fields and flowers. Bug-eyed girls peer from under the paint, or drift through them on clouds. Rokkaku forgoes brushes, using her hands to apply acrylic paint straight onto canvas. She takes an intuitive approach, often working on unexpected surfaces. These range from torn cardboard to used Louis Vuitton suitcases. She has also turned her hand to ceramics. Rokkaku cites painter Cy Twombly as an influence – drawn to his fast, rhythmic brushstrokes.

Rokkaku aspires to the freedom of childhood. Because of this, she paints and draws her manga-inspired figures in a naive style. "When I’m painting I try to get in touch with the way I felt as a child," she says. This liberates her from rules. Imagination takes priority over technical skill. She also draws on Japan's kawaii culture which directly translates as ‘cute’ but now encompasses a broad cultural aesthetic – from Hello Kitty to streetwear. Likewise, Rokkaku indulges in all things cute as a form of escapism. Wild and exuberant, her work embodies the untamed brilliance of youth.

“When painting alone in the studio, it feels like playing – catching the energy ball between the canvas and myself”Ayako Rokkaku