Aya Takano is a Japanese painter, illustrator, and writer. Born in Saitama, Japan, Takano spent her childhood immersed in books; mainly natural sciences and science fiction. Early influences included Osamu Tezuka who had a lasting impact on her dreamy perception of the world. She believed everything she read was true until she was nineteen. Takano states that sometimes even now she imagines possessing the ability to fly and is uninterested in the constrictions of being grounded.
When it was time for her to start thinking about college, Takano told her parents she wouldn’t attend unless she was allowed to enter an art program. In 2000, she received a bachelor’s degree from Tama Art University in Tokyo, and, soon after, became an assistant for leading Japanese Contemporary Artist Takashi Murakami, the founder of the Superflat art movement, who became her first mentor and jump-started her career.
Murakami was looking to exhibit the work of young artists and to help create an artistic community for like-minded artists that used the Superflat style. The Superflat movement, popularized by Murakami himself, is about emphasizing the two-dimensionality of figures, which is influenced by Japanese manga and anime, while dually exposing the fetishes of Japanese consumerism. Through the basic ideas of this movement, he created the Kaikai Kiki Co., a group where five out of the seven members are women.
In the 1980s, the look of pre-pubescent girls became the target of consumer culture in Japanese society. This infantilization and objectification of the female was seen most heavily in Japan’s otaku culture. Japanese female artists like Takano seek to reinvent the otaku culture through a feminine perspective. Takano in particular is interested in depicting how the future will impact the role of the female heroine in society. Her figures, often androgynous, float through her alternate realities partially clothed or fully nude. Takano denies that she is trying to reveal anything specific about sex, but rather, with the slim bodies, bulbous heads, and large eyes, she is trying to emphasize her figures’ temporary suspension from adulthood; the redness on the figures’ joints, such as the elbows, knees, and shoulders, is supposed to convey that they are still engaged in the growing process, mentally and physically. Takano’s playful and ambiguous visions of the future, especially one which revolves around the feminine, serves as a way for her to create her own mythology, free from the chains of reality.
All artwork © Aya Takano.