Coming to town next week is the Queen of Street Art Lady Aiko, who will be holding her debut exhibition at Ink_d titled ‘Edo City Girl’. Excitement is building for the arrival of the little lady with a big presence. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Aiko this blog will provide you with all you need to know, plus more!
Aiko Nakagawa was born in Tokyo, Japan but has been living and working in New York City since the mid 90s. As a child she grew up in the centre of one of the busiest metropolises on earth; the concrete jungle with its bright lights, noise and vitality were her toys, embedding an energy and sense of urgency that would later manifest in her art. Whilst in Japan she attained a degree in graphic design and filmmaking. It was through her work in film that Aiko directed the seminal biography on the Japanese Contemporary artist Takashi Murakami ‘Super Flat’ in 1998. She went on to manage the Brooklyn studio of Murakami, long before he was internationally known.
After her apprenticeship and work at Murakami’s studio, Aiko teamed up with two hip, young American artists Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller, and began making artwork under the moniker of FAILE. When this collision of unassuming artistic talent happened, no one could have foreseen just how influential their subsequent work would be on the world of Street Art. For 5 years Aiko collaborated with FAILE, creating dynamic, layered work and pop imagery for both the streets and galleries. Aiko departed ways with FAILE in 2006, flying solo and gaining huge success in her own right, whilst the two Patricks carried on with increased commercial and institutional prominence.
In 2008 Aiko teamed up with Mr Dismaland himself – the one and only Banksy, when she posed as a Japanese tourist taking the now famous picture of him doing unauthorized installations around New York including MoMA, Brooklyn Museum, Natural History Museum and The Met, which helped catapult the artist to stateside fame. The footage was also used in his Oscar winning film ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’.
Aiko’s solo work has developed and evolved over the years, utilising a mixed media approach including spray paint, acrylics, latex enamels, oil bars, coffee stains, rhinestones, glitter and pigment. Her work is deeply rooted in graffiti and street art but also draws influence from her own heritage, integrating the traditional Japanese aesthetic in which she was originally trained. Stencils play a big part in her practice, Aiko explains their appeal: “I enjoy cutting stencils and finding my own shapes. It is time consuming and pains, but it is my favourite part and gets me so excited to see the final result.” Her paintings and editions are presented as colourful, densely layered compositions, combining different processes and techniques with images often coming from her own daily documentation and photography.
Aiko translates as ‘Love’ and as her name suggests her artwork is full of passion and positive energy. Despite having a solid studio practice Aiko is an artist who still ‘gets up’ regularly (a graffiti term for making art in public spaces). She paints elaborate murals that retain the urgency of her canvases; applying meticulously hand cut stencils and spray paint on a huge scale. Her art has a strong feminine current running through, with sensual figures of women often being used. She enjoys having the ability to make statements about women that her fellow male street artists can’t. Aiko became the first woman to paint the celebrated Bowery wall in New York City, follow in the footsteps of other artists including Keith Haring, RETNA, Ron English, Shepard Fairey and Kenny Scharf.
We cannot wait to welcome Aiko to Brighton for ‘Edo City Girl’ and are very excited for next Thursday’s private view where she will be painting LIVE, hand finishing her new exclusive limited edition print. The show will only run until 20th September so be sure to head down ASAP for what promises to be a riotous affair of cutting edge street art. Her latest tiny edition of 25 will be available on the night for £150 instead of its regular price of £175, so get down early!