Thursday, February 3, 2011

Week 2: Yumiko Kayakuwa

Yumiko Kayakuwa is a Japanese Pop artist, whose work I first saw in a gallery in Detroit several years ago. Her pieces are actually large acrylic paintings on canvas or panel, but they have such an illustrative quality about them that I felt okay about sharing her here. I found a lot of inspiration form her work, and I feel other students could do the same.

All of her pieces share similar themes, and one central character. The girl, with circular pink cheeks, full pouty lips, and an expressionless face. She is like a vessel to tell a story around, always put into a different situation with 3 changing elements: Her fashion, an item of food, and an animal. These items are always there, but always different. There are also elements of seasons or strange locations: winter, spring, summer or outer space, underwater, in the sky even!

I think it's good how Yumiko balances the busyness of her design by coloring the piece very simply. There is no shading, only blocks of color outlined by thick black lines. The style is very reminiscent of comic book coloring, both American and Eastern. I feel Yumiko's pieces are well balanced, beautifully colored, and full of interested details. I like the rich red colors of this piece specifically, and the graceful pose of the girl. Yumiko's works are whimsical and imaginative, and her creativity seems boundless.

More of her work can be seen at She has literally hundreds of pieces, each of them different and wonderful.


  1. This piece is really reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints, and that's what I thought it was at first. It's really interesting how this artist takes a style that's usually meant for small-scale pieces and uses it in a large format. Good choice, I really like this!

  2. I think I've seen her works at either Art Chicago or NEXT last year. Cannot say I'm overly impressed: sure the artist's technical skills are rock-solid, but her compositions (I went to her site) are way too busy and lacking in visual contrast for my tastes.

    Just not my thing, I suppose.

  3. I think the bold, flat colors make this piece stand out all the more. The color is vibrant and intense to me, looking like the girl has jsut had some wild night or something. I also like the fact that the artist can use some unchanging elements into entirely different pieces and still be creative. I will definitely be looking into more of Yumiko's work.

  4. I really like how clean it looks, and even if her style is more simple she is definitely not lacking in skill. I also like the other visual elements she included in this piece--the monkey, the circles with patterns/flowers in them, etc. Also, looking at the piece, I would not guess that it's a large acrylic painting; it looks more like a piece done digitally.

  5. I like this piece because it looks simple even thought it's complex. Her brush strokes are so clean and colors consistant which, from my experience, is no easy task when working with acrylic. The fact that Yumiko uses the same three elements in all of her work is interesting and I want to see her other works.