Art Preview: Tokyo Erotika

Three artists turn Japanese erotica on its head with their uninhibited takes on the
titillating subject.

By Terry Ong | Jun 14, 2012

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  • Art Preview: Tokyo Erotika
    Emi Uchida

Quite possibly the most provocative and: sexually-charged art exhibition in recent memory, the clued-in folks at indie art space Vue Privee have outdone themselves with their latest group show Tokyo Erotika. Featuring the works of Spanish photographer Xavier Comas, Japanese painter Emi Uchida and Singapore-based French-Australian collage artist K-Narf, the exhibition is an uninhibited journey into Japanese sexuality. It evokes the mood of pioneering photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, whose depiction of Japanese in various states and acts of undress was deemed pornography.

“Sexuality in Japan has developed separately from mainland Asia as it did not adopt the Confucian view of marriage; the belief that marriage was an important part of life, as it brought clans of different surnames together,” says Olivier Henry, founder of Vue Privee and curator of the exhibition.

Monogamy in marriage was unpopular in old Japan and married men often maintained relationships with courtesans. Since medieval times, sexuality in Japanese culture has evolved. “Ancient art forms depicting the act have been modernized and replaced by more contemporary forms such as anime to create a wide tapestry of works,” Henry adds.

Fusing diverse elements through various mediums, the works will get viewers hot under the collar. Uchida reinterprets the ancient art form of Jiuta-mai, a secretive Japanese classical dance of obscure origins enjoyed only by Japanese nobles and superiors in ancient times, through her series of oil on cotton tapestry and pen and ink on paper works.

Photographer Comas documents his relationship with a Japanese Jiutamai dancer, capturing her essence in sensual and private moments that are as intimate as they are titillating. Meanwhile, K-Narf has a bit more fun with a series of wild and imaginative collage works, artist’s own photographic shots.

“The artists are extremely bold with their glorious interpretations, each from dissimilar cultures and varying perspectives on sexuality in Japan,” Henry says. “Their true desires may or may not match what one shows to society or the people around them, and that’s what makes them so interesting.”

The Tokyo Erotika exhibition is on through June 29 at Vue Privee.

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