Aya Takano is a contemporary Japanese artist, best known for her involvement with the aesthetics of the Superflat movement and manga art.
She spent her childhood reading her father's library, which consisted of many books on natural sciences and science fiction. Exotic animals and landforms combined with urban city landscapes are common themes in her artwork. She actually stated that she has always been fascinated by the unusual forms of nature and animal life. Science fiction was another early influence in Takano's life, and had a lasting impact on her dreamy perception of the world. She really 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 would not 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.
Murakami became her first mentor and jump-started her career, pushing her to make her first works on canvas and promoting her as an artist.
Soon, Takano became known for her paintings of wide-eyed androgynous figures that combine a contemporary stylization known as kawaii (“cuteness” in the context of Japanese culture), with references to ancient woodprints from the Edo period. 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 a 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.
Aya Takano's work is part of a Postmodern tradition in Japan that appropriates popular art forms, using them to represent critical perspectives on Japanese contemporary life. Like Chiho Aoshima and Yoshitomo Nara, Takano’s oeuvre is an example of how artists have developed new modes of expression within Japanese visual culture.