Selected Works

A former teen pop star with a burgeoning artistic career, Kaoruko explores the complex identity of Japanese women, caught, as she sees it, between tradition and modernity. Born in Nagoya Japan, she now lives and works out in New York, NY.

Kaoruko combines references to pop culture and traditional Japanese printing techniques in her large-scale paintings, in which she depicts languid, lingerie-clad young women in intimate domestic spaces against silk-screened backgrounds of traditional kimono patterns. The women in Kaoruko’s “Aromako” series (2011), for example, are shown calmly smelling various parts of each other’s bodies, while staring straight out of the canvas, meeting our gaze straight on.

One of Kaoruko’s primary influences is the Japanese style of woodblock printing, Ukiyo-e, which flourished during the Edo period around 200-300 years ago. The technique uses flat, clearly defined areas of color, preferring line over shading. Ukiyo-e images also demonstrate a subtle color gradation technique, which Kaoruko utilizes in her work. Gold leaf is also a common element in her work, referencing the Japanese technique of byobuga. In byobuga works, there are usually clouds painted in gold. Kaoruko’s use of the golden clouds gives the viewer a sense of distance and moves the eye around the picture plane. It is also common in byobuga to show scenes of daily life. Kaoruko’s work connects history with today’s world in several ways. Through using kimono patterns, painting the daily life of women, and applying stylistic devices of byobuga and ukiyo-e to depict contemporary subject matter, Kaoruko creates a seamless blend of tradition and modernity in her artwork.