“Think fun and fluffy”: A much needed pick me up from the endlessly joyful Misaki Kawai

Famously fond of the fluffy, poofy and wobbly, the LA-based artist delights once more with a new show currently on until 14 February at New York’s The Hole.

Date
27 January 2021
Reading Time
3 minute read

“Think fun and fluffy”: this is the joyful advice from It’s Nice That favourite and illustrator extraordinaire, Misaki Kawai. Known for her wobbly friendly characters, giant fluffy sculptures and an infectious playful aesthetic, the Japanese artist is an all-round delight. Back in 2018, we had the pleasure of first interviewing the artist who just launched a solo show in Seoul, Fluffy Days. Discussing how her work is “as wobbly as possible” (which includes a wobbly brain as much as a wobbly line) and the notable poofy hairs of smiling characters (not to mention the inspirational fluffy bunny and fluffy kitty), we couldn’t be more excited that Misaki is back on the site today, telling us about her new exhibition at New York’s The Hole.

Titled Moko Moko Doki Doki, Misaki’s must-visit show is on from 7 January to 14 February. Staggeringly, it marks the fourth time the gallery is showing Misaki’s work, the first of which debuted back in 2013. In signature Misaki spirit, the exhibition features giant fluffy sculptures and also marks the first time Misaki is exhibiting her text paintings. The artist tells It’s Nice That on the significant exhibition title: “Moko Moko Doki Doki means ‘fluffy, exciting’ in Japanese, in an onomatopoeic way, which I am known to speak.”

There are plenty of helpings of both the “Moko Moko” and the “Doki Doki” in this latest colourful display from Misaki. “Doki Doki” directly describes the big yellow fluffy sculpture aptly positioned at the beginning of the exhibition for a happy and welcoming greeting. There are six different coloured sculptures that incite the inner child in all of us – and it helps that the artist invites everyone to hug, touch and even comb the giant fluffy emoji-like expressions! Ultimately building connections with her viewers – something she does so charmingly and effortlessly even for those who aren’t able to experience her work in real life – Misaki’s work strips our human experiences to the core in her utterly engaging (and heartwarming) work.

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Misaki Kawai: Installation view of Moko Moko Doki Doki (Courtesy of The Hole, 2021)

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Misaki Kawai: Installation view of Moko Moko Doki Doki (Courtesy of The Hole, 2021)

The paintings, often featuring circular faces with comical expressions, denote “the building blocks of the world.” The canvases are accompanied with mimetic word pairings written in Hiragana (the simplest form of the Japanese written language) enhancing the play through image, text and meaning. She uses the words “chu” meaning kiss, “suki” meaning like, “peko peko” meaning hungry, “pero pero” meaning licking and “kuru kuru” meaning spinning. Bright, bold, colourful, Misaki’s latest show is another string to her bow, building on her already extensive portfolio brimming with a freeing sense of uninhibited creativity.

Moko Moko Doki Doki follows on from the artist’s work at the Honolulu Biennial and the National Gallery of Victoria Triennial in Australia. Her work is much changed since we covered it a few years ago, opting for a more pared-back approach in comparison to the thick brushwork making up her wonderful and wobbly animal-based characters. When asked whether her work has changed much since the pandemic and its resulting effects, the LA-based artist replies: “I am going deeper for creation. Because we stopped travelling, we have more time in the home studio to play!”

So we’re not sure what we can expect from Misaki in the future, though we do know it’s likely to be fluffy, wobbly and provide elation-levels of happiness. Whatever’s next for this tactile artist, part of the joy is also in the unexpected surprise. So we’ll leave you with that. And from Misaki, she ends our interview on an equally lovely note: “Enjoy making and think fluffy things!”

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Misaki Kawai: Ke, 2020. Acrylic and pom pom on canvas24 x 24 inches (61 x 61 cm), (Courtesy of the artist and The Hole NYC, 2021)

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Misaki Kawai: Installation view of Moko Moko Doki Doki (Courtesy of The Hole, 2021)

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Misaki Kawai: Moko Moko (Green), 2020. Faux fur, felt, wood, steel 24 x 24 x 10 inches (61 x 61 x 25 cm) (Courtesy of the artist and The Hole NYC, 2021)

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Misaki Kawai: Suki, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 inches (91 x 91 cm) (Courtesy of the artist and The Hole NYC, 2021)

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Misaki Kawai: Peko Peko, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 inches (91 x 122 cm) (Courtesy of the artist and The Hole NYC, 2021)

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Misaki Kawai: Pero Pero, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 inches (91 x 122 cm) (Courtesy of the artist and The Hole NYC, 2021)

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Misaki Kawai: Moko Moko, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches (122 x 91 cm) (Courtesy of the artist and The Hole NYC, 2021)

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Misaki Kawai: Daisuki, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches (152 x 152 cm) (Courtesy of the artist and The Hole NYC, 2021)

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Misaki Kawai: Moko Moko (Blue), 2020, Faux fur, felt, wood, steel, 60 x 60 x 12 inches (152 x 152 x 30 cm) (Courtesy of the artist and The Hole NYC, 2021)

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Misaki Kawai: Doki, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 inches (91 x 91 cm) (Courtesy of the artist and The Hole NYC, 2021)

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.

jo@itsnicethat.com

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