Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Aya Takano: How Kawaii!

Looking to Earth from Moon (Aya Takano, 2.004)

The fake innocence rules in Japan. And it has become a must on the national identity cocktail. Characters with sweet and childish features, impossible drawings and messages more likely to the ones that are about to start their adult life, splash this asiatic country everyday´s life. The sociologists scratch their heads while they design new theories. In order to explain the invasive movement of an style which has been limitated by Otaku´s culture.

The japanese society is living now a moment of discontent, and economy is to blame. Furthermore, its culture´s been progressively affected by the impossibility of accepting a social present unimaginable years ago. “Cuteness” has arised then, as another exportable fact of a culture really stuck on traditional ways.

In this “Cuteness invasion” there is a bunch of teenagers, half women half girls, that consume loads of j-pop, otaku products and clothes. Waiting at the malls doors, they slightly fix their eyes in trendy things while murmuring “kawaii” (how cute!).
Keep this funny word in mind, as every wannabe and trendy western mag is using it.

In the 90s Takashi Murakami started his own Kawaii crusader. This japanese artist (yep, the one designing Louise Vuitton bags and fascinating the Americans) decided to create a Pop´s Dream for himself on a Warhol´s way. His creations are cute and somehow weird. He´s been working with traditional technics while keeping and eye on marketing and futuristic creatures. The japanese subculture mixed at last with the old ways.
Following his idol, he created “Kaikai Kiki” (first started as Hiropon Factory). A massive “atelier” for young japanese artists and market cute supplies. In the meantime, he fixed as well the settings of a new style: “ the superflat” (clean, with a good quality and of course… flat).

It happens sometimes that the pupil overcomes the master. And there we have Aya Takano, a new target in the visual arts worldwide.
This japanese pop artist born in 1.976 is conquering the arty spectrum with her subversive femenine vision and her science fiction moto. She´s been influenced by otaku culture, shiny and futuristic worlds, “girl´s photography”, japanese images and Italian Quattrocento.
Her teenagers live in onanist bubbles. These heroines are always painted in ink and acrylics to get a soft and dreamy look. Her works appear to be simple but they hide a pretty virtuosism taken from her comic author side. In fact in her country she is better known for her comic works, whereas in old Europe she is considered an artist.

Untitled (Aya Takano, 2.002)

It is funny how she takes some bits from artists like Hokusai or traditional styles like “Ukiyo-e” (pictures of the floating world). Toulouse Lautrec, Van Gogh and loads of other renown artists focused on this bizarre technics. So what´s wrong with a XXIth girl artist working on them?

Uh! Yes! I can´t help it… art critics I´m pointing at you!

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