The paintings of women that recur in Aya Takano's work perfectly illustrate the kawaii girls prevalent in current Japanese society, exemplifying how deeply rooted Japan's culture is in animated literature, fantasy and the collective desire for escape. As an artist associated with Murakami's coined Superflat experimentations, Takano herself has become an icon of Japanese contemporary art. She takes nothing in her environment for granted, constantly probing why things may look or move in a particular manner. This inquisitiveness appears in her paintings masking by the artificial trappings of science fiction, intentionally rendering familiar objects and situations so obscure and unfamiliar that they might as well be imaginary.
Her deep relationship with sci-fi and manga is smoothly integrated into the alternate reality of The Art Truck Runs (Lot 1675) and Running Person (Lot 1676). Standing defiant before a racing truck, the girl (perhaps Takano herself) appears with her arms crossed behind her, inexplicably drawn towards the reckless vehicle and the artistic freedom it represents. Bedazzled with colours and ornaments, the truck serves as a literal vehicle leading the artist into an adventure of unexplored terrain. Emblems of the 'wild' -- such as the eagle or hawk, the flying amulet and tribal-like bangles -- compliment the warmth of Aya Takano's signature palette. In Running Person, we find less a demonstration of Aya Takano's artistic passion but instead a supernatural and metaphoric vision of guidance and pursuit. Two figures with glazed eyes slowly glide towards the viewer, as though are entranced by unseen force. In a wave-like crescent, black matter carries a looming nude figure who further points towards the captivated audience, beckoning the two ladies to join her in exploring the unknown. The open-ended road purposefully draws the the viewer into the painting, invoking a paranormal or 'sixth sense' moment. These half-fantastical canvases are reveal the artist's deep and affectionate exploration of manga, while also revealing her own innocent and adventuresome curiosity towards the world.
Takano frequently populates her works with the natural and yet curiously alien creating of our natural world, and here in Fight With Kani (Lot 1677) the composition is dominated by a lively and aggressive sea crab. Protected in an oversized bubble, the protagonist in poses ready to engage the unpredictable creature, engaging in a fluid and seemingly harmless brawl with a kani (crab). As this water maiden with golden fishes gently weaving through her hair engages with her opponent, a notion of innocence and otherworldliness is further reinforced by the overlapping pale pastel washes used to form the figure's features. Aya Takano's rare work A planet called Syayo! (Lot 1796), executed from hand-stitched felt displays the same whimsical vision as her paintings. The roughly cut figures leisurely bathe beneath a sky full of multiple emblems of indistinct origin and meaning, allowing the viewer to once again plunge deep into the world of imagination and make this petite landscape our own. Fanciful both in colour and in subject matter, Aya Takano is embraced in Japan for her charming and saccharine subjects; large-eyed with luscious hair, the girls are an extension of our imagination and verbal expressions, a hybrid of fantasy and the uncertainty and curiosity of our adolescent years.