This erotic ghost painting (Yuurei-zu) by Senju balances between the sensual and melancholy on one hand and the subdued rage in the ghost of a young woman.
Ever since I discovered Yuurei-zu a long time ago I have suffered a strange fascination with the genre. It is not about death, danger, fear or the dark world where the Yuurei dwells. I am not the kind person who easily regards ghosts or even the soul to be something that exists in my reality but somehow the melancholy of the ghosts speak to me. Even when the paintings border on the grotesque the Japanese ghost expresses a sort of desperation. To be seen. To be recognized. To belong. To interact. The suffering of the ghost, sometimes portrayed almost as mental illness, anxiety or just the uncontrollable urge to be something else, somewhere else, just not in their lonesome world of indescribable pain.
Although I do not find the image and idea of the Japanese ghost erotic in the usual sense of the word there is nevertheless something undeniably sensual in the notion of its almost liquid and highly intangible form. Sometimes the Japanese painters of the Edo and Meiji period rendered the ghosts in terrifying bloody images but at other times they captured the fragile and the sorrowfully beautiful in images such as “A ghost before a mosquito net” by Eiho Hirezaki (1881-1968).
“A ghost before a mosquito net” by Eiho Hirezaki.
The erotic ghost.
Why do I even entertain an idea of the erotic ghost? Perhaps it has to do with my own personal idea of closeness, trust and compassion as integral parts of sexual intimacy. As I have discussed on numerous earlier occasions, I feel that there is a divide in between what I would call the idea of sex as it is taught to us by social constructions, culture, religion etc and the wonderfull thing it can be when the layers of distraction and illusion are peeled off. So maybe I feel a romantic attachment to the sadness and melancholy of the ghost and this is what in turn makes it erotic.
Halloween is soon upon us and October 2017 will be a month where I will explore the world of Yuurei-zu. I will study the traditional Japanese ghost stories of the time and try to find inspiration for paintings that will range from the slightly sensual all the way to the explicitly erotic and pornographic. I will most likely leave out blood and gore since imagery containing death, murder, rape, mutilation, or torture has no place in my artistic cosmos. Mine will be the one of the erotic ghost and the sensual specter. There are many characters within the realm of Japanese art and lore that flirt with the erotic side of things. A small amount of these are ghost. Others are perhaps strong female characters that turns into demons and other creatures. it is quite likely that some of these will end up in my catalogue of Yuurei-zu.
While you wait in anticipation for the next ghost painting you can always read “Seduction” Shunga, ghosts and desperation where I talk a little bit about my first Shunga ghost painting.
Since I have spent almost two decades researching Japanese art, history and culture as part of my traditional Japanese tattooing this will be a month of intellectual festivities. The gods know that intellectuality, sensitivity and the artistic scares the shit out of the narrow minded, the hateful, aggressive and violent. They are also quite often deadly afraid when it comes to the idea of freedom of sexuality or simply the idea of compassion and love. No wonder I look forward to it so much.
To find out who I am and why I create what I create you should read “Shunga and how I found my artistic voice (finally).”
Why a Senju shunga blog contest? As autumn is slowly covering the Swedish north in rain and burning colors of red, orange and yellow I have decided to host the first ever blog contest on SenjuShunga.com. This is part of my effort to get all of my lovely Instagram followers to spend more time interacting with this website. Here I can share my work without the fear of censorship. I can write in depth about my work and the ideas behind it. I can also listen to what you have to say when you comment on what I create and all of you can enjoy my work in so many better ways than on the tiny screen of your phone. Of course, if you use aforementioned phone to visit me, this will work fine too!
This contest is simple. All you have to do is to comment on this post, leaving your name. I will announce the winner both here and on Instagram on the 30th of September after randomly selecting a name by drawing it out of a bowl in the very classical way these things used to be done before the digital.
So what is in it for the winner?
An original painting!
Watercolor, pencil and gold acrylic paint on paper, A3 size. And it can be yours. Let’s brighten up that dreary autumn rainy day!
So a repetition of the rules. Comment and leave your name. Random winner selected on September 30th and prize shipped worldwide and free. Easy.
The Shunga painting “Autumn Moon”.
The moon has always held me ransom to melancholy or sadness. Most of the time it’s simply a breath of the past. A memory of some emotion felt before, recorded in the distant past of my historic heart. I ache. Long. I don’t know really for what. Maybe I yearn for time to stop its constant dying and rebirth. Whatever it is that sends me down that path of bittersweetness it always spawns creativity. Nothing makes me want to create beautiful things like the autumn moon.
Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely hate being sad. Especially when in the middle of it. I guess nobody really wants to be sad but it is the one thing we use to define happiness and joy. Without sadness, happiness would slip by like a slick spy in a dark alleyway. We would never know and never look for it.
When painting “Early Spring Moon” I was filled with a humming sound. A choir softly floating on a single note, building harmonies never to be written down on paper for preservation through the ages. This was most private. A gentle conversation through emotions. The young woman in the painting is has obviously passed from this world into another, perhaps quieter and less painful one. It was hard to tell for me since she would not let any sound pass from her lips. Her eyes avoided mine. Yet she felt close. As if right there in my room this very night of painting and drawing in solitary silence.
I desired her. Needed her. I wanted to spend my remaining days on that small hill, beneath this large moon. Sit very close to her and listen to the wind making the autumn grasses slowly dance. She would say nothing and I would need nothing. It was perfection. And she was me. That was the whole thing. I realized that I had painted my own inner portrait and that I was in love with this person I felt the presence of for such a long time now. Sometimes mirrors shows shapes most surprising.
Shunga Print “Autumn”. New and re-designed edition of 15 copies in collaboration with Lan’s Gallery in Hong Kong.
Oban size (25,4 x 38 cm)
New Limited Edition of 15 prints.
Created June-August 2013
This erotic print portrays a woman of maturity. To me this is a highly erotic scene and one of my personal favorites. She has a snake tattooed across her thighs in the traditional Japanese way (Irezumi) suggesting self reliance and a strong, calm personality. In the reflection of her mirror she poses without any shame. presenting you with an uncompromising yet relaxed view of her pussy. She tells me her stories with confidence, of knowing her heart’s desires and how she is no others property.
If you want to become close and enter her world you have to reveal your true heart and in doing so be prepared to share intimacy, not only of her bed but also of your true inner self. What you as a viewer give is what you will receive. This is a daunting task perhaps, nevertheless one full of treasure. Not only will you find sublime pleasure but the viewer will also her or him self. Only through undisclosed honesty and deep compassion will you taste her sweetness and experience true passion.
For this print I have chosen a Haiku poem by Masaoka Shiki.
Ki giku shira giku
hito moto wa aka mo
In english we can read these words,
Yellow mums, white mums –
as for me, I crave a red
In Edo period Shunga, the Kiku (chrysanthemum) is often used as a metaphor for the anus as a point of pleasurable penetration and stimulation. Though this flower is more commonly used as a reference to Nanshoku, same sex love in-between men, I have nevertheless chosen to use it in my Shunga print as a reference to anal pleasure in a heterosexual context. In consciously doing so I am in no way trying to label the woman in the Shunga print or any prospective viewer as hetero. Since my erotic work flows from my own personal imagination and erotic fantasies this is simply the way I was thinking at the tie of creating this image. You as a viewer are completely free to attach your own lustful fantasies to any of my works. So much better if you do!
As a victim of this fast spinning, media consuming digital world of today, human sexuality and eroticism has become sadly attached to the physical and the surface. Lust seems to belong to the young and the physically perfected. As if the Intimate is something that can be achieved through perfecting certain sexual skills and using almost theatrical performances mimicking the shallow nonsense presented as pornography on the glowing screens of an increasingly detached generation of human beings. If you search communities like Pinterest using the keyword “erotic” you will consequently be presented with a seemingly endless stream of images showing young women with “perfect” bodies posing for the eyes of men who do not dare to explore their deeper emotions.
Still I don’t want extend blame on individual human beings in this. They are all victims of being exposed to a dangerously streamlined ideal of sexuality and the human body. Furthermore, it is the culture of not questioning the gender structure in our societies and communities that is perhaps the largest single issue regarding this irritating status quo regarding sexuality and its portrayal. In conclusion; if you don’t know your true inner self, how can you claim to know anything at all?
One of the driving forces behind my artistic urge to create Shunga prints and erotica is the idea that I can perhaps change peoples perceptions regarding the sexual, the intimate, the lustful as well as themselves. I hope that I can continue to create art that will support this idea of grasping the heart and the human reality we seem to miss out on so much and in doing so I also hope to create images that are erotic, playful, horny and simply more compassionate pornographic.
Buy this print