Discovered by Takashi Murakami when he staged the first GESAI art fair in 2002, Rei Sato has become part of the Kaikai Kiki roster of emerging Japanese talents that includes Chinatsu Ban, Aya Takano, and Chiho Aoshima, each of whom was included in the 2005 exhibit "Little Boy," Murakami's sweeping survey of contemporary Japanese pop art. Only born in 1984, the young Sato is now staging her first solo show in the States at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York.
Like her elder peers, Sato's work dovetails nicely with the Murakami art factory brand of bubblegum art. Exploring notions of kawaii (the Japanese pop cultural affinity for cuteness) and alienation, Sato paints smiling children over innocuous photos of everyday existence (click image for detail). Separated, these techniques could result in saccharine paintings and mundane photographs, but combined, the works succeed in conveying an ethereal, albeit cute, subtext to quite normal surroundings.
More images and caption info after the jump.