Unstoppable Waves Brings Japanese Street Art to London
Aiko, who currently lives in New York, works with a range of mediums, including stencil, spray paints, acrylics and oil bars, and has mastered a distinctive – though hugely varied – style, full of bold stylings, large vibrant themes and various characters.
Unstoppable Waves delves fully into Aiko’s love of colour and character. Her artworks in this series frequently utilise female characters, but without ever using the theme as a gimmick; instead, Aiko’s characters in Unstoppable Waves are often one part of a far larger canvas of detail, rather than being the sole focal point.
"Don’t Cry," for example, sees a melancholic female face (with some manga-esque features to it – a common idea in many of Aiko’s works, particularly in pieces like "A Girl With Spray Can," also in this series) with tears running down it, but this is weaved into a busy background which explores numerous other themes central to Aiko’s work: location (a "From New York" distribution label stencil covers part of the face), the act of painting (similarly, a "Wet Paint" stencil adorns a corner of the picture), complex floral patterns, smaller character designs (spacemen and butterflies) and even typography (large, thickly colored letters blend into both the background and foreground of the piece, helping to bring out the character’s features and offset the tinier details of the piece).
Other works in Unstoppable Waves include the "Dancer" series (featuring exotically dressed human/butterfly hybrid dancers surrounded by spraycans, flowers and dice), and simpler but no less striking and fascinating pictures, like the self-explanatory "Linda With Flowers" (worked in a series of browns, black and white, again with Aiko’s trademark butterflies but painted in a heavily retro, almost grainy style) and an unnamed piece featuring partly stenciled outlines of two characters embracing, using cleverly minimalist patching and drawing on classic Japanese art for its style.
Unstoppable Waves is a fine introduction to Aiko’s work. As with all her exhibitions, it’s a hugely appealing series, full of life, warmth and edge, but with enough aesthetic variation and intelligently captured urban observations to capture anybody’s imagination.