Shunga and the art of the masquerade.

Shunga and the art of the masquerade.

kabuki, benten kozo, shunga, erotic, erotica, porn, irezumi, japanese tattoo, sakura, cherry blossom, masturbation, cock

My Shunga print of Benten Kozo depicts the lead character in the famous Kabuki drama “Aoto Zoshi Hana no Nishikie”. He is an outlaw in late Edo period Tokyo (then called Edo) and in the most famous act of the play he is disguised as a woman in order to stage an elaborate act of fraud in a high class fabric shop. Only when revealing his tattoos does he transform back into a man in the eyes of the other men populating the stage at the moment.

In my erotic portrait of Benten Kozo I have chosen to depict him when pleasuring himself, still in full female attire. I suspect that the blend of women’s clothing, make up and the erect throbbing cock instantly suggests that the scene would be homosexual when viewed through the normative eyes of western culture. But is this really true? What is really going on when you view this art work?

Our gender roles as well as our sexual identities are predominantly decided by the norm of our society at any given moment in history. There is nothing inherently Gay about this image (and I am not saying that it isn’t), yet it comes across as one. I have noticed that when I share an artwork on social media that depicts a cock that is not explicitly entangled in a normative heterosexual encounter most men that usually like or comment positively suddenly vanish from the scene. The comments I receive are usually not very sexually orientated but rather express appreciation for the beauty of a piece, perhaps even the skill with which I have applied my artistic talents. So why does not the very same comments apply to an image of a man masturbating?

I think it has to do with the fear within the male group. To be seen as a lesser man. To be in opposition to the norm. to be “weak” (because strangely enough Gay is almost synonymous with weakness of some sort). Despite all their hoopla, bravado and talk about bravery men are as a group hopelessly afraid for what other men would think of them. Where did we learn all this nonsense? When liking an image on instagram you usually double tap it. Are men imagining that they touch a penis when they touch the image on the screen? Is the conditioning so great?

We as humans in the western hemisphere play an awful lot of weird little games concerning our emotions and sexuality. Lost in abstractions and ideas inherited through the narrow mind of monotheistic religions we set up barriers built of ideas we didn’t even know we had. We are taught a myriad of things as true and then cling on for dear life to all the treasures of stupidity.

When we view erotica and pornography it works as arousal mainly because we imagine ourselves taking part in the act we are viewing. So a heterosexual (another label) male would upon seeing another man having sex with a woman place himself in that role. Why does it not work when viewing a man masturbating? For me it does. Touching and pleasing myself is most pleasurable and I can easily assume this role when viewing it. If you think a cock looks beautiful, does it make you automatically gay? And to be honest, I never ever heard a man say that a pussy was beautiful.

As adults we have to sift through a tremendous pile of rubbish left us by culture and “norm” in order to obtain the few real pearls of reality that are hidden within. A good way of starting to really live and not merely pretend that you do, is to start asking yourself the simple question of “What do I really feel about it?”

For a more in depth view of how my mind works when it comes to erotic art please go here and here.

Here you can view the famous act with Benten Kozo from “Aoto Zoshi Hana no Nishikie”

 

/Senju

SparaSpara

SparaSpara

SparaSpara

SparaSpara

“Spring”. New edition.

“Spring”. New edition.

senju, horimatsu, shunga, erotic, erotica, japanese, japan, umeå, sweden, porn, pornography, sakura, pussy, cherry blossom, irezumi, japanese tattoo, japanese porn

“Spring”. A new and re-designed edition in collaboration with Lan´s Gallery in Hong Kong

 

“Spring”
Oban size (25,4 x 38 cm)
New Limited Edition of 15 prints.
Created June-August 2013
This print is the was the first in an intended series of five portraits. The idea came to me after a seeing some Edo period (1603-1868) woodblock prints depicting close-ups of vaginas reflected in Kagami (Japanese old style polished bronze mirrors). My intention was to couple each design with a famous Haiku poem and since this form of poetry traditionally revolves (at least superficially) around the Japanese traditional seasons – spring, summer, autumn, winter and the New Year, I did imagine a logical flux through them.There was to be both female prints as well as male ones and the fifth showing the two coming together (the New Year).
Initially I struggled for a long time, alway incorporating to much information into the designs and after several months of anxious painting and repeatedly throwing everything but the centerpiece away, I finally arrived at a format I was content with. My background as a traditional Japanese tattoo artist probably clashed with the subtleties I was aiming for and the creative process proved to be painful and tedious until the first breakthrough was accomplished. I was simply “tattooing” the prints and much of the eroticism and plain horniness was drowned in arrays of flowers and other overly obvious additions

.
For this print I chose a poem by Buson (1715-1783). I stumbled across it when looking through one of the several Haiku books in my modest but to the point library that serves as some sort of a backbone for most of my creative projects.
When I first started flirting with the Japanese arts I collected books on the subject from floor to ceiling. It was a necessity as well as an obsession of mine. I read them all from cover to cover, full of feverish hunger and a burning desire to learn and somehow become initiated. I understood that I knew nothing and I also hoped that I could learn something. For a brief period I transformed one of the rooms of our small house into a library. It was a dream I had nourished since a young boy and I was filled with pride as I arranged the volumes on Zen, Kabuki, Haiku and Ukiyo-e on their designated shelves. And there they also remained. Until I suddenly sold most of them to colleagues and friends.
I had come to the realization that my hardbound treasures reminded me more of old dusty bones piled along the walls of some catacomb somewhere beneath a decaying old city. I understood that once they were read they served no purpose to me and could instead benefit a new owner. Perhaps someone that was more in need of their printed secrets. Also I needed money in order to constantly return to Japan.
As the years have accumulated on top of that realization I have also understood that I am perhaps a somewhat impulsive and rash nature and that some books can actually become a part of you, so I have started collecting again. This time I am desperatly trying to limit myself to jus a few bookcases and if I find a new book, one of the old ones has to move out. I hope this will in the end polish my reference library into a sharp and skilled blade.
The Haiku on the print reads;
hana chirite
ko no ma no tera to
nari ni keri
which in english becomes;
Cherry blooms are falling –
and now between the trees,
a temple appears.

Buson 1715-1783

I believe my print fits the words perfectly. I used the traditional Irezumi (traditional Japanese tattoo) pattern of Sakura Fubuki (winter cherry blossoms) and as far as the temple goes I think the design works splendidly.
I worked hard to paint a vagina that was exiting and at the same time sweet and lovely. Something that would make you almost fall in love . Or at least make your heart beat faster. It is supposed to be a portrait of somebody and I didn’t want this intimate close-up to be just “porn”, like the images you would find almost everywhere on the internet these days. That type of pornography seems to me contrived and decieving and has not so much to do with being lustful or horny as it has to do with basic reations to visual stimuli. In short, it doesn’t turn me on intellectually or emotionally. What is today labeled pornography is shallow and void and if you have had really real sex you know what I am talking about. The heart has to be in it.
/Senju