In the aftermath of the disasters, I had a dream,
water gushed from a mountain side, submerging
an entire valley,
as I tried to reach the mountain's crest, in my mind,
an unparalleled act of nature, enshrouded all of Tohoku,
while fragments of civilization lay, along the mountain's slope.
After the disasters passed, for a period of time, I could not paint.
I still do not know whether I am doing so now.
One of the leading members of Takashi Murakami's Kaikai Kiki stable of artists, Aya Takano is identified with the Japanese art style dubbed "Tokyo Pop" or "Superflat." As theorized by Murakami, this new pop aesthetic borrows from the Japanese subculture of otaku-a computer-geek culture characterized by an obsession with manga (comic books) and anime (cartoons) and the historic traditions of Japanese graphic arts, such as the flat lines of woodblock prints.
Within this superflat aesthetic Takano has pioneered her own pictorial language notable for its unique sense of kawaii (or cuteness) and lolicon imagery. Shorthand for Lolita complex, Takano's lolicon girls, long-limbed, almond-eyed, prepubescent waifs, are inhabitants of an explicitly feminine world. Takano is further distinguished by her interest in science fiction (she is a prolific illustrator and writer of the genre), which informs her ability to construct fantastical otherworlds.
Recently the artist has become fascinated with the cultural specificities of Japan, in particular the ancient Ainu people of northern Japan and the fauna of the Amami Oshima islands off the southern coast. This new line of inquiry is indebted to Takano's love of science fiction and her interest in Sakyo Komatsu, one of Japans' most beloved writers of the genre. Takano was drawn to the author's studies of Japanese cultures and peoples. Inspired by Komatsu's photographs and illustrations, Takano began to incorporate the architecture and iconographies of ancient Japan. an ethereal, dream-like landscape. Her signature young girl stands in the center, wading in an ankle-deep lake between two rolling hills. The whimsical foliage surrounding her seems to stir and come alive. The sylvan nymph is charmingly attended to by forest creatures, the furry animals that Takano habitually includes in her work. Takano further emphasizes the chimeric quality of her fantasy world with the softly applied pastel colors, floating shapes, and disjunctive scaling.