Aya Takano unleashes her imaginary trappings of the Western science fiction and Japanese manga and anime in her wonderfully peculiar visions on her canvases. It is one that is inhabited by playful but innocent prepubescent girls who recovers the memories from Takano's lucid dreams of worlds beyond reality, where the subjects are always somewhat familiar but the vivid landscape borders on hallucinations and dreams.
Painted in 2000, Fallin' Manma: Air (Lot 1348) is a scene of peculiar perspective view of a topless figure either falling or floating amongst two airplanes in an aerial ground of optimistic yellow and blue. In the Post-World War II decades of Japan, the influences of the dynamic, futuristic alluring worlds of sci-fi novels and manga served as an instrument of spiritual recuperation and invigoration for the nation. Illustrated on the cover of Hot Banana Fudge, the image is poignant for its use of subtle juxtapositions that remain the hallmark for Takano's works. On one hand, the gravity-resistant realm offers a space for freedom and serenity; one another, the imagery of falling figures from the sky and what could be symbolic of fighter planes at war, somehow speaks of an underlying violence and dystopia embedded in the contemporary psyche.
A cluster of fireworks, that girl (Lot 1350) depicts doe-eyed girl with lips pursed, standing brazenly in her underpants, holding a Noh theatre mask of an old woman. Such reminder about the transience of youth and beauty recalls themes most exploited in the two-dimensional world of ukiyo-e prints. As if caught in between acting roles, the girl poses in the subtle theatrics of black backdrop, radiating clusters of fireworks from her frail body, underlining a certain subversion that jars with the impression of gentleness expressed in the muted colours and light touch.
Tilted at its corner, the canvas of Sweetness in the Darkness (Lot 1349) is a transpiration of Aya's imagined world of limitless bounds that speaks of the simple pleasures in indulgence and hidden desires. Though stripped bare to her near naked form, the girl is endearing rather than sexual in her innocence and satisfaction of indulging her sweet tooth among her elusive friends of morphing anamorphic, abstract shapes in dark space. The whimsical details of cherries, trinkets and toys of candy-toned forms wholly illustrate the embodiment of the culture of girl-centric cuteness, or kawaii-ness, pervading in contemporary Japanese society. It is this unique capacity in evoking visceral experiences of momentary escape and collective solace through her endlessly rich pictorial world of undeniable creative genius that has continue to propel Takano at the forefront of Japanese contemporary art.