Kaoru Hasegawa possesses an artistic style that's deceptively saccharin. Her cutely dressed, wide-eyed, pastel-haired, video-game-playing creations are sure to win the hearts of anime fans. But the often sorrowful expressions her characters wear suggest something more than just cheerful portraits of cute girls.
The contrast between the seemingly happy attire of the women in her paintings and their blank stares produces a delightfully unnerving effect. The skillful subtlety of this contradiction is worthy of note; her characters are not crying or angry-- in other words, they are not excessively emotional. In fact, it's quite the opposite. These fairy-like beings merely have an expression of hesitation, or more accurately, they seem to be paused. The reason for this is unclear, but it feels somewhat interactive, as though, by observing these girls, you, the viewer, have interrupted their daily activities-- to a larger extent, you have disturbed their perfectly pink and pristine universe-- as evidenced by their slightly disdainful, caught-mid-action facial expressions. Although it is admittedly a bit eerie, I also find it quite funny to imagine myself as an intruder into their private universe, and I enjoy the rather playful nature of Kaoru's work. And I'm not the only one. This ability to imply the correlation between viewer and artwork have earned Kaoru legions of well-deserved fans.
Of course, her art leaves room for a multitude of deeper interpretations (even just the saucer eyes of her delicate creatures appear to contain a myriad of mysteries on their own), but Kaoru says her main goal is still to simply add more happiness to the world. Like her drawings, this gives the impression of being a simple mission. But happiness is sometimes hard to feel, and her paintings convey the turbulent, frequently interrupted paths one takes in order to achieve bliss.
What is your favorite piece you've painted? My favorite work is “Soy sauce Uchuuw". https://www.curioos.com/product/print/soy-sauce-uchuuw
What do you hope to capture with your paintings?
My style is particularly influenced by Japanese games, animation, and food. Those [motifs] will [continue to appear] in the works that will be created in the future.
Which artists inspire you? Hayao Miyazaki! I like all his visual works!
Why do you paint? Why do you share your art?
Because I like to draw pictures. I am pleased that fans [view] my work at exhibitions, and that they can pick up goods such as postcards and badges. I can create new works [inspired] by [the fans]. I want to fill the world with happy feelings!
What's the best reaction anyone's ever had to your work?
It's not one person, but I was able to interact with [people] from all over the world by posting works on SNS. It was also very pleasing that @anzujaamu came to my solo exhibition in Kyoto.
What are your plans for the future?
In the future, I would like to put apparel and textiles in my store. I would also like to establish my own studio.
Images used in collage via @kaoruhasegawaartworks