May All Things Dissolve in the Ocean of Bliss: Exclusive Interview with Aya Takano

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© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

“May All Things Dissolve in the Ocean of Bliss” is Aya Takano’s first major solo exhibition with Kaikai Kiki Gallery (Takashi Murakami’s art space in Tokyo) in eight years. Her show’s titular piece, and largest extending over 3 panels, encompasses her thoughts on all things coexisting in a single world. What she portrays here includes everything that is disastrous, cruel and wonderful simultaneously dissolving into a single state of bliss. Aya Takano spoke with Hi-Fructose in this rare interview about her new work and future dreams as an artist.


© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

HF: After the 3.11 earthquake, a lot of Japanese art seemed focused on the experience of tragedy, but I don’t get this impression from your work. Your new paintings point out a more positive outcome, by looking at both the bad and good of the world. How did you arrive at painting this theme? Has anything changed about your way of thinking?

AT: There’s an old Chinese poem which reads “The nation has fallen, but the mountains and streams remain.” It’s a poem that most Japanese children are required to learn (though I’m not sure if that is still the case at present). The message is that even after the nation has been defeated in war, its mountains and streams survive. After the disasters of 3.11, the mountains and streams did indeed remain but not in the form they held before. There’s another phrase from some 800 years ago that Japanese children learn in their teens; it goes: “Though the river’s flow never ceases, the water itself is never the same.”

One of the core concepts of Buddhism is an old phrase from India: “Every form in reality is empty, and emptiness is the true form.” All things emerge from the same source, take shape, and then wither way.

Finally, one last doctrine that is drilled into us as children is the notion that all existence is impermanent. I came to a true realization of this after 3.11. I’ve come to think that rather seeking heaven in external forms, I must reach heaven from inside myself.


© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

HF: There is an element of realism to the way you draw Japan, like your own Japan but mixed with familiar images of the urban landscape as in your convenience store drawings. Even the way you draw clothing is a mix of new fashion trends with traditional Japanese garments. What is the reason behind your choice to mix fantasy with reality in this way?

AT: What we refer to as ‘the present’ is actually a constant mix of things occurring now and the past. I mention this to a lot of people these days, but take the Fibonacci Sequence. It goes 1.1.2.3.5.8.13.21… and the series proceeds by adding the current number to the one before it. This sequence can be found when plants bloom and many other places in the natural world. If you use these numbers to draw a circle in a grid, you get infinitely close to the golden spiral. So if we extend that thought, adding the past to the present brings us ever closer to the golden ratio. That is one reason for mixing things.


© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

HF: You’ve talked before about your personal physical relationship to art, and previously your subjects have expressed themselves through physical contact. Here, they have a deeper connection to elements around them: I found “She Suspect Darkness is Also Made of Light” to be a particularly beautiful image of a girl bathed in city lights. Can you talk about the inspiration behind this type of image?

AT: I recently began doing yoga and as a result, I’ve started doing meditation. I believe the world has gotten a lot deeper since I began meditating. For example, when I walk down the street, I personally feel that the amount of information I receive has deepened, multiplied by hundreds of thousands from what it was before. I continue to receive inspiration from physical, material things, but I also believe that I have become able to gather inspiration from light waves, electromagnetic energy, and other forces not yet known to humans, and that cannot be seen by the human eye.


© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

HF: I’d like to know more about your “Forest” collaborative installation with flower-artist Makoto Azuma. Generally speaking, nature can be seen as a symbol of healing and in modern society, our reward for living consciously, but here it is full of mystery. How is this “forest” an extension of your story?

AT: A true “forest” is a place of fear. It is a place where lives are lost. I guess you could say the same thing by substituting the word “nature” for “forest”. Before 3.11, this was something that I had never noticed. If we concentrate on forests alone, the forests of today have a lot of elements that are artificially created or have been refined by the human hand. In older times, we had better control over this balance and it’s even said that with “just a touch” of human input, the forest was able to accommodate a great amount of life. But in today’s Japan, humans influence the forest in strange ways and afterward leave them to grow wild, and I’ve heard there are many where nothing can survive there anymore. Under normal circumstances, when it rains, a forest is an environment that retains water well, but now we have started to have huge land slides. My wish is that people will begin to recover their respect for and knowledge of nature. That is why I chose to call the installation “Forest of the end, and the beginning”


© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

HF: What can we expect to see from you in the future?

AT: I want to live a life of prayer for the happiness of all things and if I continue to produce work, it will be in that vein.

Thank you to Aya Takano, and special thanks to Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Tokyo for this interview’s translation.

© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


© 2014 Aya Takano Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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