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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Having wet dreams.

Having wet dreams.

erotic art, shunga, pussylicking, lesbian, japanese ghost

Shunga and the supernatural. In my painting “Musei” (Jap. wet dreams) a female ghost performs oral sex on a female member of the living. I was striving for both terrifying as well as romantic lust when creating this piece.

Most Shunga depicts male-female sexual acts but there are plenty of detours taken from this norm when you study this genre. There are of course male-male sex (nanshoku) as well as the female-female dito. Edo period Japan was in many ways liberated from the idiotic moral shackles surrounding human sexuality. These ideas usually weighs down societies influenced by monotheistic religions and their subsequent cultures. Sex was not a part of immoral behavior but rather a part of life. Not that the people of Edo copulated in every street corner but  conditions dictated restricted space for housing and the small houses was usually constructed out of wood and paper. It was practically impossible for people to have sex without being heard or glimpsed now and then.

In the  Japanese erotic art of the Edo period there was room for the supernatural, comedy, political satire and sometimes even violence in various forms. The woodblock prints and paintings spoke a secret language spelled out clearly for the initiated but remained veiled for the individual or institution that did not have access to the various keys for deciphering the images.

So what was on my mind when creating this painting?

I feel that our human selves can do without the labeling we inherit with our mother’s milk. The idea of normalcy is an idea laced with a poison to divide and suffocate us. Nowhere is this more painfully obvious the when it comes to two major ideas that have plagued us for centuries now – the idea of ¨race¨and the idea of ‘sex’. When something is considered ¨normal it automatically labels everything else as ‘abnormal’ and in our minds this phenomena becomes strange, weird, dangerous. Like who you experience sexual pleasures with for example. Penis and vagina go together we are taught since childhood. In a way this is correct. if you are referring to making babies only. Because that is all there is to that. If you extend that idea of *biological normalcy* into the realm of sexual pleasure and arousal you are bound to go blind into the darkness.

Musei (Wet Dreams)

In this painting two females are having sex, yes, but I have no real desire to label them as lesbian or not. This will be up to the viewer, who I’m afraid will often jump to the learned or inherited conclusion. Does the fact that one is apparently dead and transformed/remained as a ghost confuse things? I hope so. Also the inherited idea and fear of what we call ghosts (which I do not believe to exist even though I have met one. Another story we can discuss at another time) is most likely as far from the complex truth of things as we can possibly get. That is a gnawing certainty that I base on my experiences in life so far.

Furthermore, we can not really assume that the ghostly apparition is really of female gender, can we? Oh, the true reality is not so easily put into your small boxes, is it? In fact, the shimmering bluish shape tasting and caressing the other woman could be a man. Even if I set out to paint a female ghost making love to living woman I am no longer sure of what I created.

One thing that I am certain of is that this is a scene of deep intimacy and beauty. Something that surpasses our small ¨ideas¨of reality. for it is within the realm of love and intimacy that reality abides. Not decorating the religious and morally sanctimonious altars of the ones that choose fear and promotes hate in order to cloak their weaknesses.

For further reading on another ghostly erotic painting I created please go here and for understanding a bit more where my art comes from please go here.

/Senju

 

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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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The “Hasu” painting. What do you see?

The “Hasu” painting. What do you see?

erotic, erotica, shunga, porn, japanese porn, lotus, buddha, buddhism, enlightenment , erotic art, sensual art

“Hasu” means Sacred Lotus in Japanese. In Buddhism the lotus is a symbol of enlightenment, as the flower grows out of the muddy bottom of the pond and rises itself above the water surface.

In the “Hasu” painting the woman’s shaved head would perhaps suggest that she is some sort of buddhist nun. At least a bit holy or enlightened or at least getting there sooner than later. Yet she reveals herself to us rubbing her pussy against a lotus bud. Obviously it is a pleasurable thing to do so. She is looking back at us over her shoulder not caring at all that we are her voyeurs. There is nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed for. As it should be.

Let me explain my intentions with this Shunga painting. Besides the obvious erotic connotations of course. Many years ago I took a crash course in Zen buddhism. This was a basic easy hard thing to get involved in. It meant jumping straight into monastic life for 5 days. Quite a shock but a very sweet one. Zen monastic life can be challenging at first but naturally it grows on you. At this crash course there was a man that perhaps felt a bit confused and threatened that Zen buddhism is an actual religion and not just a philosophy as he might have read in some book or article.

At this point I ask you to keep in mind that Zen is a religion without prayer, gods, sin etc. It is the systemization that makes it a religion. And the belief that yo can save yourself from a lot of emotional suffering  through stilling your confused mind. Sound easy? It really is. And of course is not.

On the first night of our stay this man wanted to question the idea of bowing to the Buddha statue placed on the altar when entering the Zendo (meditation hall). I guess he felt uncomfortable bowing to things. So the Zen master kindly explained to him that, since we are all Buddhas since birth (we just forgot about as we grew up and people and society filled us up with confusing ideas) the image of the Buddha is really an image of your self. Like a mirror. So wen entering the zendo you basically bow to yourself, acknowledging that you are about to work hard on returning to your original self. Now, that is simple!

So this Shunga painting is something like that if you give it some thought. As a sentient being you are perfect as you are. It is only ideas that make you otherwise. Shaved head does not make you holy or spiritual in itself. Neither should it be regarded as neither normal or not normal. It is simply a shaved head. The rest you add yourself.

When it comes to the human body, sex and intimacy we are really falling into thousands of immediate little traps based on ideas. Thought patterns inherited, learnt….. very seldom are any of these things something that we ourselves have arrived at after careful deliberation. They just simply appear out of thin air. Like menstruation is gross, breastfeeding in public is inconsiderate and equally gross, the female naked body drives men in to fits of horniness and therefore should be covered, same-sex sexual encounters are wrong by “nature” (hey, in that case cars, bicycles, trains and planes should deliver us to hell as well. We are born with two feet, god damn it!), fucking will send you to “hell” and so will masturabtion too! Well, all of these ideas are at the best idiotic but mostly tragic and also tremendously dangerous. Millions of people have been killed over ideas no one really know where they picked up.

So the figure in the “Hasu” shunga painting is you (yes it really is), rubbing your self against the lotus that is your original and perfect mind as it was when yo first arrived in this world. Bow to yourself. Love yourself!

/ 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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