(Born in 1976)
signed and dated 'Takano Aya; 2004' in English (on reverse)
acrylic on canvas
100 x 80.5 cm. (39 1/4 x 31 1/2 in.)
Painted in 2004


Painting images of women or rather kawaii girls of the Japanese youth, Aya Takano not only shows how deeply rooted Japan's culture is in animated literature, manga and fantasy but also the psychological need of people have for a fantastical escape. As an artist associated with Murakami's coined term Superflat, Takano further probes the association between art and psychology in the world through animation. The depicted figures in Untitled (Lot 874) and Green apple and white bee (Lot 875) all pay tribute to the imaginative mind in Takano and the audience. It is often in the titles of the works that viewers are able to decipher the jovial adventures depicted on the canvas.

The depicted scene in Untitled is an amalgamation of the many places we imagine we can be at one time; deep underwater, amongst clouds and perhaps a pre-historic era. Aya Takano has once again imagined a world of wonder, amusement and contradictions that entice the viewer's imagination. Free of traditional compositional elements, the multiple objects within the piece are differently scaled. The large girl who looms over this imaginary world poses with great conviction. While provocatively dressed and holding the arm of a crab that she seemingly just tore. Though slightly masochistic, the image is not horrific but surprisingly curious. The viewer cannot help but marvel amusingly over whom the girl represents; is she a hunter, a vision Takano had of the past or would we, the viewer similarly wish to be the central figure? It is a refreshing vision from our daily sights of skyscrapers, offices and computers and reminds us of a life beyond our daily existence. Untitled removes the viewer from the monotonous life of work and also is a reminder of the unique melding Takano and Japanese youth do between reality and fantasy; indeed many Japanese youth dress fantastical outfits as everyday wear. Painted in Takano's signature gentle, softly coloured brushstrokes, the components of Takano's paintings look charmingly unpolished. Rendered and coloured with pastel colours, her images are approachable and loving.

In Green apple and white bee the two girls of the painting can easily be mistaken for a mirrored reflection of one girl; they have the same pursed cherry lips, braided pigtails and deep blue eyes. Yet the apple and the bee, as indicated by the title of the work and images on the dresses indicate that these are indeed two girls, linked not only physically but also through deliberation. Takano's style often evokes happiness and a sense of optimism. They are not dark or overtly sensuous but mysterious and deep. The viewer cannot help but wonder why these two girls express surprise, intrigue and perhaps indicated by the flush in her cheeks, embarrassment. Similar to twins, they are attached by their linked hair; a fantastical representation of the connection one can feel to another when subjected to a similar occurrence.

Whimsical both in colour and in subject matter, Aya Takano is embraced in Japan for her charming and sweet works. Large eyed with luscious black hair, the girls are an extension of our imagination and verbal expressions. They are not pure fantasy as we too have experienced a moment of confusion, boundless curiosity and desire thereby rendering Takano's works as delicate reflections of our reality and dreams.