Blog Contest!

Blog Contest!

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.

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The Beautifully Decorated Gate.

The Beautifully Decorated Gate.

shunga, erotic art, erotica, peony, heian, lesbian, tongue

The title of my Shunga painting “Gyokumon” (the beautifully decorated gate) is a Japanese euphemism for the vulva. A lovely name for the centre of our universe.

 

My Shunga painting “Gyokumon” dresses itself in the shape of a young woman gently licking the center of a peony. Her fingertips gently touches the silken petals, perhaps even parting them a little. Her warm breath embraces the flower, caresses it. The eyes are closed. The moment is now. There are no thoughts. Only experiencing. The universe has ceased its chaotic dance for just this one second and only she and the flower exists.

This is arousal. Halting our train of thoughts. it gives us respite from the slow torture of existing in confusion. It defines us as alive and connects what is so often separated. Our body and our mind. Makes us whole again if only for a few seconds that seems like infinity. heart pounding, hands trembling, warm skin….

I have chosen the form of Shunga to express myself. Before this there was merely confusion. Odds and ends. Bits and pieces of what could be me. My erotic art taps directly into my inner heart and lets me tread new paths. It also lets me change in a constant flux, repainting my house in ever changing colors and patterns. This journey is one of self definition and being alive. Some can argue that one should feel some bitterness over hours, days, weeks and years spent in vain but in fact no such thing has happened. It was all unavoidable and merely pointing me in this direction all the time. I was just not ready to listen to myself yet.

It is my hope that my art will change the world. This might seem like a coat far to large for someone like me to wear, but truly we are already changing this universe together. Me by creating and you by viewing and experiencing. The mind can never un-think something it has already thought. I plant my seeds and they will continue to change the world forever and ever. Just like with all the things you all do and say. We are truly Goddesses and Gods!

/Senju

Purchase print

 

 

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Shunga and how I found my artistic voice (finally).

Shunga and how I found my artistic voice (finally).

cock, pussy, shunga, fucking, wooden clogs, geta, kimono, bathtub

The Shunga painting “Asaburo”, which I created during July 2017, is a very good example of how I have come to develop my contemporary view on this form of erotic art.

 

The Edo period form of erotic Japanese art called Shunga (Jap. “spring pictures”) was something I was vaguely familiar with through my daily studies of Ukiyo-e and other Japanese arts in my profession as a traditional Japanese style tattoo artist. After 10 years as a common tattooer creating pretty much on customer demand I had grown tired of not properly approaching my ideas of what kind of an artist and person I was. For various personal reasons and circumstances Japanese art, culture and spirituality increasingly came to play an important role in my life so the decision to become a Horishi (traditional Japanese tattoo artist) suddenly became unavoidable and necessary.

I quickly came to understand that in order to master this great feat I had to study. Very Hard and everyday. So I did just that. I read everything I could get my hands and eyes on. In Irezumi, the traditional Japanese tattoo, the artist usually used Ukiyo-e woodblock prints or paintings as reference for composition, style and content. Most of my clients wanted the images of warriors, heroes or various animals tattooed on their backs, arms and legs, usually combined with Japanese seasonal flowers and a background depicting water or wind.

In the world of Ukiyo-e there were many active artists at any given time during its 250 years of success. Many of these came and went without leaving traces in art history but a few such as Hokusai, Kuniyoshi, Utamaro, Kunisada, Hiroshige and Yoshitoshi ended up changing even the evolution of western art. Hokusai created on of the most recognized pieces of art in global human art history when he designed the famous Kanagawa-oki nami ura, (“Under a wave off Kanagawa”).

Kanagawa-oki nami ura, “Under a wave off Kanagawa” by Katsuchika Hokusai.

 

One thing that all these important artist have in common was that they at one time or another produced Shunga. The time and place in history where they lived and worked was unique. Edo was a “boom town” with a surplus of male inhabitants. Sexual or intimate encounters with females were rare or in many cases unobtainable. So pornography became a commodity of necessity. Images of sex became high in demand for masturbation purposes and the business of Shunga was highly a highly lucrative one.

It was the winter 2012/13. I had been tattooing since 1991. My marriage was since long failing. At the time I didn’t know it but I had been ignoring or postponing the discovery of my artistic voice. I was highly successful as a creator of Japanese tattoos and my popularity was painted in an ever ascending arc of more clients, further recognition and a steady income. Inside I was struggling. I was becoming depressed and  emotionally depleted. I had lost myself in the process it seemed.

A few years earlier I had ventured into book publishing together with another creator of Japanese Tattoos and we were supposed to go to a famous tattoo convention in Milan in order to present and release our latest book. As a tattoo artist it is common to design and print sheets of design, “Flash”, and sell these to other artists and collectors at the event. If these sheets proved popular it usually provided the opportunity for a little extra income during the convention. I had been doing it for years and years. This time, as so many times before this, I was thinking hard in order to come up with something new and unique. It had been a bit of a trademark for me. Since my studies into to Japanese culture and art were so deep and intense and since so many other artist did not really study these things I had been constantly able to present new approaches to the old subject matters.

I can’t really remember why I chose Shunga as the theme this time. Perhaps it was because at the time hardly any other tattoo artists painted or drew any designs like this. Perhaps it was an attempt of self love. In a failing relationship I was just like the men of Edo. Alone and thirsting for intimacy. Also, I had always liked to push boundaries and break taboos. What ever the reasons were I started to create five images doing the best I could with the materials and knowledge I possessed at the time. Suddenly ideas were flooding my creative mind. I found use for knowledge unusable in tattooing. The designs quickly evolved into complex images and each of them became a Shunga painting in their own right. This is how the finished sheets came out.

senju, horimatsu, shunga, erotic, erotica, japanese, japan, umeå, sweden, porn, pornography-1-2

senju, horimatsu, shunga, erotic, erotica, japanese, japan, umeå, sweden, porn, pornography-1-2

senju, horimatsu, shunga, erotic, erotica, japanese, japan, umeå, sweden, porn, pornography-1-2

senju, horimatsu, shunga, erotic, erotica, japanese, japan, umeå, sweden, porn, pornography-1-2

senju, horimatsu, shunga, erotic, erotica, japanese, japan, umeå, sweden, porn, pornography-1-2

I had them printed as a limited edition of 25 sets and put them in a specially designed slipcase and went to Milan. In all honestly they weren’t as successful as I had hoped for but the reactions I received and the many interesting and positive conversations that took place surrounding these sheets during the convention really inspired me. I understood that perhaps I have found that voice.

As a person I am soft spoken but with many words. I experience emotions on a deep level. I am not an aggressive type. Positivity and always rising from the debris of everything imaginable is something I have always done. I am  very serious person yet full of humor and laughter. Emotionally I take my time and stay out of rash decisions but creatively I take leaps of one thousand miles at a time and fear nothing. I do believe in love as the most valuable of jewels of the human heart ( not just romantic love but all types of love). All of the above are perhaps the reason why I lean towards Zen buddhism, non-violence and dialog. Unfortunately this way of being as a person isn’t exactly the easiest path to tread in societies like ours. You can perhaps say I make a very lousy “Man”.  Hopefully a better Hu-Man.

As I continued exploring (I still continued tattooing at full time as well as published books) I found that I already had a strong sense of imagery and how to combine the erotic with things I wanted to say and questions I wanted to pose. Also it was arousing to paint these images. The idea of being horny took on new dimensions and I slowly started to re-discover myself. And heal.

Edo period shunga usually depicts sexual encounters in-between couples, perhaps wife and husband or other constellations of lovers or persons intimate, and is mostly free of body shape ideals or the idea of sinfulness (no God, no Sin). Not many things were taboo when it comes to sex in Edo Japan. Homosexuality for example was not considered abnormal but was rather a part of the sexual society in Shunga. Most of the images are intimate and private, focusing on the encounter and placing the viewer or user as a voyeur. There are of course exceptions to this rule where and sometimes even rape is portrayed but these images are very rare and cannot be seen as even remotely relevant in a discussion regarding Shunga.

A great book to read, and a personal favorite, on the subject of Shunga is Sex and the floating world: erotic images in Japan 1700-1820  by Timon Screech. In this book he shares the conclusion that the imagery of Shunga is one that is strongly linked to the erotic and intimate fantasies of the men of Edo a that specific time in history. Namely that the idea of closeness and intimacy with a person on a romantic / passionate / Intimate level was for most men an unobtainable dream. Another great book on the subject is this wonderful book by Rosina Buckland.

Of course, women in feudal Japan did not experience much freedom, locked away by conventions and gender roles  instituted by the male ruling classes, and their story remains sadly untold to a great extent in Edo shunga, since it was mostly orientated towards male consumers of pornography.

This is why taking the ideas of Edo period Shunga into my own contemporary world, blending and grinding it together with who I am, what I feel and my life experiences works so well for me. What comes out of this union of Then and Now and Me and You can perhaps be the beginning or part of reclaiming the erotic, the intimate, the passionate and the sexual. I certainly hope so.

/Senju

 

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“Aizen Myoo”

“Aizen Myoo”

fellatio, cock, bonji, porn, pornography, cocksucking, blowjob, kimono, shunga, erotic art, erotica, sensual, pleasure

“Aizen Myoo” shunga erotic painting by Senju. A new version of an older painting I created in 2015.

Shunga is here and now. Even though commonly regarded as an artform of days gone by, exploring its spirit and history has provided me with a tool with which to resist the hollowing of heart that seems to be the disease that we as humans suffer the most from. The line separating lust and passion from greed and and consequent suffering is thinner than the razor’s edge. With eyes half closed you easily confuse what is being mercilessly and repeatedly dressed up and presented as “reality” with the real human heart.

Pornography, as it appears to us on the internet and in the constant sexualization and exploration of the female body and of women as objects of mens sexual desires in media and advertising, is not to be confused with “reality” or even “fantasy”. In “pornography” everybody looses out.

Pornography should be snatched away from the traffickers, the oppressors, the power hungry and greedy, the emotionally dumb and blindly devouring industry that re-packages and re-sells the same old ideas, structures and values that enslaves us all. Sexuality, passion, love and lust belongs only to ourselves. By exploring and examining what we discover within ourselves when we look bravely and without fear inside our own hearts, by uncovering falsities and prejudice within us, by nurturing fearlessness of emotions and throwing away all that garbage we have been told is “reality”, then we can create something real for a change.

/Senju

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New print. “Kikubatake”

New print. “Kikubatake”

erotic, arotica, shunga, porn, irezumi, japanese tattoo

My Shunga painting “Kikubatake” shows a young woman elaborately tattooed in a sensual fashion. The irezumi (traditional Japanese tattoo) design is based on Kimono patterns.

Shunga and the erotic keeps me warm inside. As the month of april has passed easter the wind is still carrying frost up here in the north of Sweden I am revealing a completely new work. “Kikubatake” is in reality a new version of a painting I did about two years ago titled “Benten Kozo (mitate). As time slowly moves on and ahead and my style becomes closer to what is really in my heart I will attempt recreations of earlier works.

As you live with a painting on a daily basis you really get to know them well, and I have felt that this female character was not really fully developed in her earlier incarnation, so I simple set out about three weeks ago to help her re-incarnate. The more I paint and the more my style develops it has become obvious that I spend more time creating each piece, constantly evaluating and re-evaluating even the most insignificant choices of colors. Giving birth to my art is becoming a far more costly task than I did imagine when I first started with my Shunga art project back in 2011.

The last couple of months have been spent tattooing more than I usually do and energy has been a thing subjected to rigorous rationing. Sometimes there is simply not enough to go around. I hope I will soon acquire the minutes and moments I need for properly getting this blog running smoothly on a weekly basis. I have things to say, questions to ask and stories to re-tell.

/Senju

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New prints added to the Gallery Store.

New prints added to the Gallery Store.

cock, pussy, kimono, insertion

The Shunga painting “Entering the Palace”by Senju Horimatsu. Fine Art reproduction on heavy matte paper.

I am currently exploring the path of being an artist in its full sense of the word, and I am enjoying every moment! After 26 years of tattooing the world of my art is finally coming into full bloom. What a tremendous joy to create freely and without any other consideration than what pleasures me. This of course means that new art will be created and that there will be new prints added to the Gallery Store almost on a weekly basis. I have plans for collecting the shunga into hardbound books that in them selves will be works of art, and I have plans for more paintings, textile experimentations such as scarves, tote bags and clothing. There will also be handmade and fully functional sex toys which will blend the worlds of getting aroused by viewing a work of erotic art and then using it for your own pleasure.

I begin this with adding three of my analogue paintings on canvas to the Gallery Store as limited edition prints. Enjoy 🙂

/Senju

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