Akina is a villain with a button fetish. She attacks innocent teddy bears to steal their button eyes!
Sydney based artist Lang Leav uses pastels and pixels to weave the enchanting world of Akina. Since its inception, the illustration based fashion label has established a cult following worldwide. In 2005, Akina was selected as winner of the Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards judged by industry heavyweights such as Peter Morrissey. Later, the label went on to inspire a documentary that aired internationally on ABC television in 2006. As well as critical acclaim, Akina has achieved commercial success, being sold through key boutiques in Australia and Japan.
Lang’s artwork has also drawn recognition. In June 2006, she was invited to participate in the Strange Worlds Exhibition at China Heights Gallery, followed by Gas at The Global Gallery in November. She is also one of the select artists chosen to have her work showcased in the fourth edition of world renowned publication Curvy.
Her first solo exhibition was held at the Kinokuniya Gallery in April, 2007. The exhibition titled ‘The Teddy Bear’s Picnic’ featured a series of works that offer a sinister twist to our much loved fairytale characters.
Within this world, Gretal discovers something more delicious than candy, Little Red Riding Hood undergoes a ghastly transformation and Rapunzel uses her long, golden locks to commit atrocious acts. It is a world where button fetishes are contagious, childhood nursery rhymes are interwoven with macabre themes and happily ever after is anything but.
‘I am often asked why I create such sinister twists to fairytale characters. I remember when I was a little girl my Dad bought me a Fairytale book. It was a huge thick book -” a collection of the complete and unabridged tales of the Brothers Grimm. The stories were contrary to the happy Disney-esque ones I was accustomed to. They were violent and often ended with children meeting gruesome deaths. I think I realised then that in their purest form, fairytales are dark. This irony really influences my work’.
Recently Lang Leav was awarded a prestigious $25,000 Winston Churchill fellowship to study the Harajuku Girls, an underground sub culture seeded in Tokyo where Lang heavily draws her inspiration. Among her other influences are Mark Ryden, Donovon Crosy, Shoichi Aoki, Tim Burton and Gary Baseman.