The Poetic Passion Found in Senju Shunga’s Art
Marijn Kruijff
2 min

The Poetic Passion Found in Senju Shunga's Art

2 min

The following text is an excerpt from Senju Shunga‘s book Kagami in which the artist tells about the background of his painting AO (Blue), his inner struggle, and how he incorporates this in his work.

Painting 38 in the book Kagami

“All of my paintings in the shunga genre are mirror of myself, be it as part of my fantasies, desires or curiosity, or as a sort of diary in which I note down my emotions in order to visually manifest them.
Even as a young boy I had ideas about the romantic and I remember falling in love often. The bitter sweetness adorning the pathways of my heart grew to be a part of me and most likely helped me cultivate my poetic view of the world around me. It lead me to understand that love and the desire to be in its presence was probably the fundamental driving force in human beings. Love is not necessarily always of the romantic kind. It is an emotion of many aspects and depths and can manifest in an almost endless number of variations but without it we slowly wither and die.

senju shunga painting

‘AO (Blue)’ (2016) Oban 25,4 x 38cm

Some would argue that darker aspects of human behavior like fear, anger and hate would prove us to be of an aggressive or primitive nature which through hard work can become at least partially functional. I strongly feel that I have to disagree. This idea of a sinful creature that through penance and righteous living might be able to reach some sort of absolution from its lowliness is nothing but an abstract idea inherited from delusional monotheistic religious beliefs. Even if most of us would say that we are not suffering from such idiocy we are still brought up and conditioned by society that will maintain such ideas, even if we don not call them religion anymore.

As a man I grew up in a structure where having emotions, let alone showing them, was regarded as weakness. I have survived in a culture where violence is officially condemned  but still relied on as a solution to problems or as a source of entertainment. A man’s worth is still measured in his ability to dominate, to stand the ground of his fellow men or the strange art of hiding yourself behind a rigid mask of steel.

The ability to love or to receive is crippled severely by this conditioning and believing love to be a dangerous pursuit where one will end up betrayed and hurt, many protect themselves by further removing themselves emotionally. And so the circle is closed and becomes a prison.

In AO the idea was to show the tenderness and openness shared between two human beings. To be close means that you have to let the mask fall from your face. In that action lies the great liberation and the great reward of finally becoming alive. Since our early childhood we are taught how to wear disguises in order to save ourselves from our mortal enemies such as rejection, vulnerability and sensitivity. These are fears that will only grow stronger the more you fight them. In reality the conditions that would grant them victory does not exist. Unless you imagine so.

In order to understand the world you must first understand yourself. To be able to love and receive love you will first have to learn to forgive your self. To be able to love and receive love you will first have to learn how to love yourself, with all and everything that is you. True strength is to understand that there is such thing as weakness.”

Click HERE for a review on the book Kagami*…!!!

If you are interested in checking out the complete treatment of Senju Shunga’s work click HERE to purchase the book…!!!

*I am not an affiliate of the artist, just a fan.