Droll, greyscale cityscapes roamed by imagined character LUV.

LY was born in in 1981 in Tokyo, Japan, where she continues to live and work.

Did you know?

While strictly monochrome, each work can include as many as 30 individually-mixed shades of grey - carefully composed as a series of sharp-edged solids.


Bringing LUV to the masses, the artist's paintings have also been realised as public murals in Japan, France, Thailand, Malaysia and the US.

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Collaborations with this artist

Practice overview

LY depicts the streets of Tokyo through the prism of her imagination. The artists’ musings on modern life are told in a neo-pop, Superflat style with a palette of solely black, white and grey. The protagonist of her practice - an imagined amorphous character called LUV - appears across painting, drawing and sculpture in urban landscapes and forests made from hard-edged planes of colour. Personal anecdotes document wider cultural trends and histories. The skate shop in the woods (2020) shows a quintessential pandemic scenario: arriving at a shop to find it closed. One figure is curled on the floor in a lonely-looking pose, while another comically pokes its head out from behind a shrub. The painting’s palette - composed of eleven carefully mixed blue-grey hues - contrasts the playful tone of the second figure. Through this contrast, LY expresses the all-too-relatable feelings of loneliness and boredom felt by many during global lockdowns.

LUV’s gaze functions as a mirror to LY’s intentions as an artist. 4 LUVS (2020) shows LY’s trademark character replicated four times in front of a row of shops. The figures, while plaintive, stare assertively at the viewer, embodying the strength of LY’s personal commitment to painting. “LUV always sees straight forward because I [too] am going to look forward to my future living as a painter,” she says. In this sense LUV functions as a quietly absurd mode of self-portraiture, a whimsical and charming diary of the artist’s life.

“My creatures are my dear darlings. I consider each of them as an individual.”LY