Misaki Kawai’s “Moko Moko Doki Doki” Show at The Hole, NYC

The Kagawa, Japan-born, LA-based artist tells us about fluffy animals, onomatopoeia and more

Moko Moko Doki Doki, Misaki Kawai‘s fourth solo show at The Hole, promises to be just as bright and fun as one expects from the Kagawa, Japan-born, Osaka-raised, LA-based artist—but this time her direction is fluffy and wordy. From the beautiful to the bizarre, adorable, absurd, shiny, bubbly, puffy, kooky and playful, Kawai’s work provides viewers with the kind of off-kilter cheerfulness and escapism that’s so often needed. We interviewed Kawai (as requested via email) about her new exhibition and found her answers to be just as enjoyable as her art.

Misaki Kawai “Moko Moko (Pink)” 2020 / “Moko Moko (Blue)” 2020 courtesy of the artist and The Hole

Can you tell us anything about the work you made for Moko Moko Doki Doki?

I like fluffy and hairy animals. Nice to have art that everyone likes to hug and kiss. Yes, I hope people feel fluffy and excited!

Misaki Kawai “Chu” 2020 / “Daisuki” 2020 courtesy of the artist and The Hole

The exhibition will feature some of your first text paintings. We know you like colorful, puffy and fluffy things, but what prompted you to start working with words?

When I speak Japanese, I use onomatopoeia a lot. So this time I use some onomatopoeia on paintings. Kind of happened naturally to use these words. Also, there is a similar emphasis on text in my exhibition now at the NGV Triennial in Melbourne. We even made a publication called, Moja Moja Means Hairy.

Misaki Kawai “Peko Peko” 2020 courtesy of the artist and The Hole

How has your creative process changed—if at all—over the past year? Do you feel more or less inspired?

More remote meetings. These days I have more time to focus, so I think I can have deeper creation. As there is less travel, there is more time to craft a live/work flow. I feel more inspired now. I always have the ability to create.

Misaki Kawai “Pom Pom” 2020 / “Ke” 2020 courtesy of the artist and The Hole

Your style is immediately recognizable, but never stagnates—what are some of your practices for experimentation, evolvement and/or growth as an artist?

I can’t stop making. I always have a blank sketchbook to record new ideas every day.

Was there a specific artwork you created, recognition from somebody or a moment when you realized you could make art as a career?

I was always following my interest to create since I was a child, but there were a couple of moments… Once, during my time at Kyoto College of Art, my teacher said, “If you want to be an artist, start now.” So, my friends and I sold our drawings on the street in Kyoto that same day. Then, during my first trip to the US in 1999, I met someone in SF who suggested to me, if I am an artist, to visit NY. So I went and during my stay—I really began to feel I needed to be there as an artist. Even if I didn’t speak English well.

Misaki Kawai “Moko Moko (Green)” 2020 /
“Moko Moko (White)” 2020 courtesy of the artist and The Hole

When do you feel most satisfied with one of your pieces? Is it while you’re planning, or while you’re making, upon completion, sharing it with viewers?

The whole process!

What motivates you to make your best work—are there certain seasons, moods, events that you find most stimulating creatively?

Always think about fun and goofy stuff. Brain exercise! Enjoy every day. If need a rest, relax on a hammock or in a warm bath. Get energy from the beach, mountains and the park. Eat rice!

Hero image Misaki Kawai “Pero Pero” 2020 courtesy of the artist and The Hole