Senju Shunga Revisits His Poetic Homage to Gustav Klimt
Marijn Kruijff
3 min

Senju Shunga Revisits His Poetic Homage to Gustav Klimt

3 min

Almost two years after the release of his homage (Fig.3) to Gustav Klimt’s iconic The Kiss (Fig.4), Senju returns to his original concept in order to examine what difference artistic and personal evolution makes when it comes to creating art.

Treacherous Sharp Rocks

On his blog he describes it poetically: “Through it all the idea of human love remains the lighthouse that guides us away from the treacherous sharp rocks hiding in the dark waters of the heart.”

Kuchidzuke Senju Shunga

Fig.1. ‘Kuchidzuke revisited‘ (2020)

Kuchidzuke revisited Senju Shunga

Fig.2. Close-up heads of  ‘Kuchidzuke revisited‘ (2020)

Curvilinear Contour

This new version of ‘Kuchidzuke (The Kiss) – Revisited‘ (Fig.1) has become a more restrained work. The abounding with ornamental pictorial elements with crisp curvilinear contour that surrounds the couple like a halo in the first painting, have been replaced by a calm, almost meditative use of gold, like in Klimt’s original.

Kuchidzuke Senju Shunga

Fig.3. ‘Kuchidzuke (The Kiss) – A Sensual and Poetic Ode to Gustav Klimt ‘ (2019)

Emotional Revelation

The first homage (Fig.3) was an emotional revelation for Senju, as he was anxious for the reaction of others when he would paint a new version of this masterpiece in the traditional Japanese style. Shortly after he posted the end result on his Instagram account he was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic reactions. At that moment, it gave him the self-confidence and acknowledgement that he could live and work as an artist. He describes it as one of the most beautiful moments in his life and one he goes back and revisits often in order to find inspiration and energy.

gustav klimt the kiss

Fig.4. ‘The Kiss (Lovers),’ oil and gold leaf on canvas, (1907–1908) by Gustav Klimt (

Femme Fatale

In contrast to the otherwise dominant femme fatale in Klimt’s work, the female figure here submits herself. She offers herself to the man and surrenders to him. The shimmering robe lets the unvarnished sexuality shine through. In this way, Klimt avoids the censorship on the taboo subject ‘kiss’, censorship, and holds a mirror up to the puritan Viennese and their own hypocrisy. The painting was a downright sensation and enthusiastically applauded by the public. The models in the painting: Klimt himself embracing his girlfriend Emilie.

Update 20 Oct 2021

Yet again, Senju returned to Kuchidzuke (The Kiss) and created another version (Fig.5). He felt the need to revisit another time as his initial idea evolved, resulting in new insights. For instance, his love for Klimt’s The Kiss was not the real inspiration to pay homage to his art but his portrait Adele Bloch-Bauer (Fig.6). His first two versions aren’t very true to original if you remove the two lovers. It has always been that abundance of gold and shapes that makes up The Lady in Gold that fascinated him and touched him so deeply.

the kiss Senju Shunga

Fig.5. ‘Kuchidzuke‘ (Oct 2021)

Transparent Skin

Senju Shunga: ‘The offset of almost transparent skin against the almost overwhelming guilded surroundings, where the boundaries of Adele, her dress and the background are almost erased. So even if Kuchidzuke reminds you of The Kiss, it should be viewed with The Lady in Gold in your mind’s eye. Nevertheless, I hope that this third and final version, which connects the dots more precisely, will be met with the same favour as my previous attempts.’

portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer Gustav Klimt

Fig.6. ‘Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I‘ (1907) by Gustav Klimt

Mycenaean Volute

Realism and abstraction enter into a synthesis in this portrait (Fig.6). Klimt covers the surface with a Byzantine-like decor, which he already used in his landscapes. Strange signs, such as the Egyptian eye in a triangle or the Mycenaean volute – beloved motifs of Klimt – only become visible at second glance.

Soon we’ll pay attention to the erotic drawings of Gustav Klimt…!!

Click HERE for an article on the 2019 version of Kuchidzuke (The Kiss) and other sensual pieces by Senju….!!

Kuchidzuke (2020) is available in the artist’s gallery shop (we are not an affiliate). The most recent 2021 version can be obtained HERE…!!

Which version of Kuchidzuke do you prefer, the first or the latter? Leave your reaction in the comment box below..!!