LY extolls droll wanderlust in greyscale cityscapes roamed by her imagined character, LUV.

Japanese painter 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. LY depicts her signature, amorphous creature — LUV — across painting, drawing and sculpture in urban landscapes and forests made from hard-edged planes of colour.



  • Neo LUV, duo show at GR Gallery, New York, 2020
  • Without Warning, group show at Avenue des Arts, Los Angeles, 2020
  • INSIDE, mural at BCG Digital Ventures, London, 2020
  • Collaboration with Coach, 2018
  • OUTSIDE/INSIDE, solo show at Gallery Target, Tokyo, 2018
LUV was born when I swore to myself that I’m going to live a life as a painter.”
Stay at LUV's home by LY
Stay at LUV's home, LY, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.
The skate shop in the woods by LY
The skate shop in the woods, LY, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

LY’s personal anecdotes document wider cultural trends and histories. During the pandemic, for example, social isolation became a more prominent theme in her work. The skate shop in the woods (2020) shows “the moment that LUV arrives at a skate shop in the forest but finds it closed.” The shop is in the centre of an empty car park surrounded by bushes. One figure sits in a lonely pose, curled on the floor, 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 lighthearted, playful tone of the second figure. Through this contrast, LY expresses the all-too-relatable feelings of loneliness, boredom and disappointment felt by many during global lockdowns.

Ly Studio Shoot
Ly Studio Shoot
“My drawing creatures are my dear darlings, I consider each of them as an individual.”

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 selling books and burgers — some of the artist’s favourite things. 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.”

4 LUVS_2020_small
4 LUVS, LY, 2020. Courtesy of the artist, Birdman Photos and Avenue des Arts Gallery, Tokyo.

In this sense LUV functions as a quietly absurd mode of self-portraiture, a whimsical and charming diary of the artist’s life and her reflections on it.


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