Click any of the images below to view a sample of Akio Takamori’s catalog, Eros.
Akio Takamori: Eros
Solothurn, Switzerland: Gallery Kunstforum Solothurn, 2014
Eighteenth-century erotic painting in Japan, especially the work Poem of the Pillow by Kitagawa Utamaro spawned a great deal of Akio Takamori’s lifework and definitely his 2014 show at gallery Kunstforum Solothurn in Switzerland. Funnily enough, Takamori, who began his career in Japan as an industrial potter, first encountered the visual poem in a library after he immigrated to the United States (1970s). These X-rated ribald woodblock prints known as Shunga were widely circulated in Japan beginning in the Muromachi era (1336-1573) until the 1890s when the country opened itself to the West. It was then that the government banned explicit subject matter that might represent the Japanese as misfit or perverse to Victorian Christians. Shunga was not reintroduced in Japan until the 1980s.
After attending art school in the United States, Takamori began to produce figurative ceramics almost exclusively. And upon learning of this cultural vault which was withheld from him as a young person in Japan, was probably enormously influenced.
In Shunga figures are gracefully galumphed together, plump and fleshy, engaging in the carnal act as if just one shape. We are reminded of the titillating cliché: two become one. In his exhibition Eros, two figures are similarly galumphed, only Takamori chooses to emphasize the space between the lovers by making the sculptures double as envelope vessels. The “vessel” is traditionally erotic, but not so traditionally a metaphor for distance, empty space between.
“We live between birth and death. Once a person is born, he cannot avoid death. The only energy that goes directly against death is what I call eros. It is a tremendous force to live, to reproduce, and to stave off death. I understand that sexuality is a very important positive energy for human life.”
Sometimes Takamori’s lovers despise each other with narrowed eyes. On opposing sides of the sculptural vessels, the lovers’ physical positions, facial expressions, genders, and races are subject to change, manifesting emotional distance between them. The artist’s intuition to zoom in on sex, the universality of the act, may have come from growing up in genophobic post-war Japan.
The catalog includes 26 images and an essay on the artist by Roswitha Schild.
This story comes to you from the exhibition catalog Eros, available in cfile.library. To view the sample catalog click here or to get full-access to the cfile.libary begin your free membership trial today.