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(Born in 1976)
Can You Hear Me? It's My New Song
acrylic on canvas
118 x 91 cm. (46 x 36 in.)
Painted in 1998
Hiropon Factory Kaikaikiki, Hot Banana Fudge, Tokyo, Japan, 2000, not paginated. (illustrated)

Lot Essay

Painting images of women or rather kawaii girls of the Japanese youth, Aya Takano not only show 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 UFO Tatto and A Fluffy Puppy (Lot 402), Can You Hear Me? It's My New Song (Lot 400), Baby Milk Tooth + Life (Lot 721), Horoscope (Lot 724) and Secret Spell (Lot 401) 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 concept of otherworldliness is further reinforced by the often overlapping pale pastel lines used to form the figurative features in her paintings. Though the painted figures are often half nude, these acrylic paintings are not overtly sexual. They are strangely innocent because of Takano chosen colour palette. Most representational of a child is the girl in Secret Spell who sits and stares demurely at the audience. Her rosy cheeks, fanciful blue hair and pursed crimson lips suggests that she is shy and holding a secret behind her flirtatious face. Equally mysterious is the figure in UFO Tatto and A Fluffy Puppy who wraps her slender legs around the stuffed animal. Because of the pale cream background and lack of shadows and contours, we imagine that she is floating in the air in a meditative pose. She dons traditional Japanese hairpieces and accessories only without a kimono and leans back in her seated position, suggesting that she is unperturbed in her environment. Equally bare is the girl in Baby Milk Tooth + Life whose delicate flower patterned torso is equally as soft as the wispy tattooed Japanese. The permanence of her inked self is contrasted to the bleeding and loss of a baby's tooth. However striking and garish the expression is on the girl's face, the smoothness of her face and dark large eyes are simply too soft to fear. In the most psychedelically coloured and themed painting (Can You Hear Me? It's My New Song), the audience faces several opposing emotions and reactions. While the pregnant female leaning against a tipped bull, the elated central figure and the singing woman in the foreground are filled with vitality and animation, the figure and crumbling building suggest that we should cower with fear and worry. It is then that we consider the title and the depicted matter as the manifested lyrics of the self-narrative song. Protected in an oversized bubble, the protagonist in Horoscope swims alongside the zodiac sign for cancer. She bears resemblance to a water maiden as the golden fishes swim at ease in her hair. Like the other featured works, the relaxed demeanor of Takano's works as reflected in the visible drafting just beneath the knees of the maiden in Horoscope has enhanced the acceptability and from Takano's admirers.

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 the loss of a tooth, tattoo art, religion and music thereby rendering Takano's works as delicate reflections of our reality and dreams.

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