Rieko Sakurai draws inspiration for her works from a wide array of generic influences: Pop art as well as elements of traditional Japanese Nihonga and Manga submerge and lead up to her own artistic interpretation of Animamix. A portmanteau of "animation" and "comics," Animamix Art is a reflection of contemporary obsessions with virtual reality in which a new digital dimension is created. Striking, bold colors and a new perspective on light build the basis for Animamix's discernible characteristics: the worship of youth culture, images that are rich in meaning, designs, cartoon and animation and genres like fantasy, mystery, horror, romance and sexuality.
Rieko's highly stylized depictions of breathtakingly sweet girls are bursting with colorful energy. With slightly outlandish looking faces and a half smile, they look back at the viewer who finds himself mesmerized by their big, round and soulful eyes. Half questioning half knowing, these eyes express the deepest feelings and seek to create an immediate bond with the viewer. While the girls in all five works seem very shy, there is a strong sense of underlying sexuality. This duality between the awakening consciences of ones own sexuality, desire and physical appearance on the one hand and a child-like innocence on the other hand, call to mind a Lolita image of an irresistible but yet unattainable nymphet. Interestingly, it seems that the artist herself grew confident with this delicate ambiguity and has over the years allowed the characters of her works to become increasingly revealing.
While in Blind Star (2004) (Lot 538) a sickly pale, fragile angel-girl with a soft grey-blue hue is portrayed, Dots Girl (2006) (Lot 539) shows a sparkly modern princess, nude, with endless eyelashes, billowing hair and fabulous jewelry on a striking colored background, radiating confidence. She carries a white duck with a red-spotted collar on her lap and the viewer can not help but wonder whether this duck is her adorable stuffed animal or sexual counterpart. The triple series of Elephant Girl ii, Birdy Girl and Star Girl (2007) (Lot 540) reflects the completion of the artist's internal transformation. All three paintings display an elemental, bold confidence that, especially in Birdy Girl, borders on arrogance. In Elephant Girl the artist works with themes like metaphorism, fantasy and self-exploration to depict a girl's fascinating physical and mental metamorphosis into a woman.
Rieko's artistic development is also apparent in her color application. Her superflat painting technique is not only detail-oriented and worked out, but also maintains painterly elements that display her immense knowledge and awareness of color. In Dots Girl, for example, red dots shimmer through black hair, adding light and emphasizing a layered perspective. Using non-representational colors, she accentuates respective themes within her paintings, delivers messages and creates a heightened sense of excitement in the viewing experience. In that, she comments on a generation of young people who, like herself, grew up during a time that saw a great change in the approach toward color - be it in art, fashion, film or advertisements. Furthermore, it is this generation that experienced the technological revolution of the late 20th and early 21st century at a young age and thus a dramatic shift in the coneption of space and time. Taking her artistic commentary on society one step further, Rieko uses unconventional canvas forms reminiscent of modern-day obejects, such as a TV or street signs. Her works offer a complex insight to Japan's contemporary urban society and a generation that copes with a variety of cultural phenomena.