Aya Takano

16 Mar — 13 May 2017 at Galerie Perrotin in Paris, France

Aya Takano, Exhibition view. Courtesy of Galerie Perrotin
Aya Takano, Exhibition view. Courtesy of Galerie Perrotin
22 MAR 2017

The Galerie Perrotin is pleased to present Aya Takano’s personal exhibition, “The Jelly Civilization Chronicle”, from 16 March to 13 May 2017. The artist will exhibit a selection of 26 paintings and several drawings on celluloid, all preparatory studies for a 186-page manga, unveiled here in its entirety.

A painter, illustrator, sci-fi writer and manga artist, Aya Takano belongs to Kaikai Kiki, the artistic production studio created in 2001 by Takashi Murakami. Inspired by all art forms, from erotic stamps of the Edo Period to impressionism, from Osamu Tezuka to Gustav Klimt, the artist has built a universe all her own. A universe made of infinite worlds, all means of escaping reality, gravity and its restraints, to attain a certain form of transcendence imagined from the youngest age: “When I was a kid, I daydreamed and stayed in my fantasy land by reading books and mangas all the time. I hated most designs of devices and buildings and I still do. I aspired to freedom of spirit and I was very different from others. I still want to be like that, but I’m not able to…”

Aya Takano’s inner journeys wind their way into delicate works that convey a disturbing impression, somewhere between eroticism and impertinence. In a bedroom or in the metro, in front of the skyscrapers of a megalopolis or on the moon, naïve and androgynous girls are sketched out in thin, sharp lines. They have wide-open eyes encircled with black, long legs and lips like rosebuds. Often nude, draped in kimonos or dressed in the latest Tokyo fashions, these young women talk to each other, kiss each other, touch each other. Their knees or elbows are reddened, attesting to their extreme sensitivity. They float, fly above the clouds and communicate with their peers or with exotic animals, sometimes misshaped, always in partnership.

Aya Takano’s mythology has constructed itself little by little, through her creations and visions of the unknown. In March 2011, a violent tsunami struck the northeastern coasts of Japan and led to the nuclear accident of Fukushima. A real wake-up call for the artist, this catastrophe deeply influenced her work. Preferring oil paint, which is more natural, to acrylic paint, for example, Aya Takano seems to pursue a new artistic quest, both humble and spiritual, influenced by a unique interest in science and guided by an absolute respect for nature and human life.

Aya Takano has a special gift for storytelling, which she expands and enriches from one image to the next. She has created a 186-page manga entitled The Jelly Civilization Chronicle, exhibited in its entirety at the Galerie Perrotin, in English. After taking form in her imagination, the work came to life in very colourful preparatory paintings and drawings on celluloid. We find all the themes and obsessions of the artist from the beginning of her career, 20 years ago: self-discovery, feminine beauty, science fiction, the fight between light and shadow and the pursuit of an immaterial ideal, freed from all restraints of gravity… The 20 or so paintings that accompany the manga make up a series of independent, intense and jubilatory works. In them, Aya Takano expresses the essence of her tale with her precise sense of composition. Multiplying details and clues, she develops her entire nuanced and delicate chromatic palette.

The manga stages the adventures of Naki and Minaka in a journey from the “Machine Civilization” to the “Jelly Civilization”. In a back-and-forth voyage between eras and spaces, the two characters meet in the sky and travel to the outer edges of the universe via unexplored places or planets with unknown magical powers… Initially dressed in emblematic high school uniforms, they are in turns nude or swathed in traditional kimonos or dreamlike clothing made of a mysterious jelly, a living organism that feeds off of water and oxygen. Surrounded by fabulous creatures, they are also accompanied by their ancestors, represented in the form of animals. They learn about the stars, meet a queen in an owl mask and encounter beings with star-tattoœd skin.

On the ruins of a nuclear reactor, after numerous trials and metamorphoses, the herœs return to the peaceful society they originally came from. This “Jelly Civilization” combines tradition, memory and eternity: “Memories of all the people wearing ‘jelly’, memories of all the ‘jelly’, memories of what is happening now, of what might happen…” The result is the fruit of an imagination that feeds itself, full of every possibility of illusion, like an ideal space on the border of dreams and desires. “I think it is omnipresent inside ourselves and everywhere,” explains Aya Takano. The Jelly Civilization Chronicle represented a real challenge for the artist, who devoted herself to telling the recent story of Japan, while crystallizing within it her worries and obsessions as she never had before: it took an entire year to develop this original and ambitious work, presented and distributed first time in Paris, at the Galerie Perrotin.