Painter and illustrator Audrey Kawasaki is known for ethereal oil-on-wood paintings of women and girls who look more like delicate watercolor than oil. With graceful curves and haunting porcelain doll faces, her themes seem contradictory within themselves but simultaneously blended to look attractive and disturbing. There is an innocent and erotic element within her work, sprinkled with a light touch of manga comics and Art Nouveau. But it’s her razor sharp lines and graphic imagery, painted upon natural grain wood panels, that offers the most unexpected warmth to her subject matter.
Kawasaki attended the prestigious Brooklyn Pratt Institute for only two years. Although her concentration was fine arts painting, she never really had the chance to dive into her work. All of the painting she did at Pratt were large scale oil on canvas nudes. Tired of following the pack, this wildcard recalls showing her [favorite] professors “the girls on wood series.” Surprised, she was told to never work like that again. It was then, Kawasaki realized in order to pursue her ‘fine art’ standards, she would have to leave New York, where most of the art, in her opinion, was inaccessible and too high class. She felt the west coast more accepting and welcoming of emerging artists and made her to Los Angeles.
As a young girl, Kawasaki wanted to be a manga artist. She was enthralled by the big, dreamy, twinkling eyes and all the girliesque drama. Discarding most of the dramatic flare, Kawasaki still maintains some of the manga influence such as the attention to line flow, eyes, and overall expression. The figures she paints are seductive and have an air of wistful melancholy—almost as if they exist in their own sensual, erotic realm—beckoning the observer into the scene. Be careful when you look— these mysterious creatures on wood will captivate you with the direct stare of their bedroom eyes.
The young, naked women in Kawasaki’s paintings may all look different, but according to the artist, “It’s all the same girl. It’s one person.” This artist never deviates and always paints with oil, and always on wood panel. She sketches the face, the torso, the breasts, and gangly appendages, then starts brushing in the highlights and shadows. But sometimes, the girl on the panel doesn’t cooperate. She refuses to emerge. That’s when Kawasaki gives the girl a break, and moves onto another painting. Sooner or later she will arrive.
Just like any other artist, Kawasaki experiences great satisfaction whenever a piece starts to come together, but sometimes is a little critical of her own work. Once a piece is finished, however, she rarely goes back for those extra touches. With a huge fan base growing everyday, Kawasaki feels a bit overwhelmed by her popularity. She never expected to be famous but thinks of herself as lucky to be able to make a living as a working artist. But it’s more than luck which makes her work so appealing, it’s her undeniable talent!
To see more of Audrey Kawasaki, please visit her site here.