Misaki Kawai

Prolific Japanese-born, now LA-based artist Misaki Kawai makes vibrant paintings, sculptures, and papier-mâché works in an appealing faux-naïf style that embraces the honest imagery of childhood.

After studying at Kyoto University of the Arts in her native Japan, Kawai moved to New York in 2000, where she developed her take on heta-uma, an illustrative style rooted in manga that roughly translates from Japanese to mean “bad but good.”

Kawai promoted her early work by selling zines and drawings on city streets, and gradually became known for her charming and joyful body of work. Her pieces often centre on goofy characters and incorporate multimedia elements like fluffy pompoms.

Twee and energetic, her works evoke a timeless feeling of uninhibited, innocent glee.