These two paintings by Aya Takano have a whimsical flair that I enjoy, featuring dangling beanpole-like girls set against quintessentially Japanese city or suburban backdrops. The cartoon-ish air is characteristic of the Superflat style to which Takano subscribes.
Superflat is a Japanese art movement founded by Takashi Murakami. In an unlikely marriage of classical taste and kitschy pop culture, Murakami's brightly-coloured, cutesy characters have been emblazoned on the famous Louis Vuitton monogrammed handbag. The term 'superflat' is no doubt a reference to the influence of graphic or 'flattened' forms in Japanese anime and manga on the art produced by members of the movement. It is often treated as a metaphor for the shallowness of Japanese consumer culture as well. Other than Murakami and Takano, Yoshitomo Nara, whom I've written about before, is a prominent artist of the movement.
Superflat goes beyond defining a common artistic style to uniting themes such as infantilism and repressed sexuality; the undercurrents of modern Japanese society. Superflat images might seem sweetly childish initially, but their outward appearance belies the underlying anxieties present. Sometimes the images are obviously grotesque or highly sexual in nature. The creation of the Superflat movement also poses an interesting study as a successful effort to market Japanese contemporary art to Western audiences.