Shunga Gallery not only examines the shunga art of ancient times but also keeps close track on the developments of appealing contemporary artists that are inspired by shunga. One of these artists is Senju Shunga who is based in Umeå, Sweden.
Besides shunga, his work shows influences from Gustav Klimt, Japanese folklore, Art Nouveau, irezumi (tattoo art), and Indian art. His tableaux are characterized by mysterious figures (mostly seductive females) that dominate the image and look seductively at us.
Below you can find his most recent pieces…
In this painting Senju reaches back to the “fellatio” theme he already treated a couple of years ago in his ‘Aizen Myoo‘ and ‘Sei Shonagon‘ pieces. The Swedish artist does not comment whether the sensual woman is an empress or a goddess. The Japanese title ‘Seijo‘ translates as “Holy Woman”. The focus is on intimacy, which is, according to Senju the most important part of sexuality. It is the key to unlock the outside limits. Without this sex is just a grinding together of skeletons.
The work of Alphonse Mucha, and Art Nouveau in general had a major impact on Senju’s aesthetic education and life. The delicate design and beautiful use of color and line in Mucha’s works were a wonderful distraction in his gloomy childhood. It calmed him down and gave an alternative to a stifling culture in which he felt like an outsider.
Formento + Formento
Judit was created in collaboration with the artist duo Formento + Formento. The latter are based in the U.S. and their wonderful photographs have been flirting with Japanese themes for some time. Since they found inspiration in Senju’s work they approached him and asked him he was interested in making a painting inspired by their photographs. The result is the above piece.
‘Judit‘ is not only an ode to Art Nouveau and Alphonse Mucha, but also to the strength of all the women who have suffered through the ages. A symbol of resistance. The insert in the upper left corner features a decapitated head dressed in cloth, and symbolizes the suppression and rape culture, that still exists and that we have to deal with in order to survive. She is holding a wakizashi (a short Japanese sword).
Kitsune, the Japanese fox with its bewitching powers, has not only been a beloved theme for centuries in Japanese folklore, but also intrigues Senju who often includes it in his paintings and prints.
In his new painting Fuukou, the artist plays with the fox’s ability to shift shape. Does it really happen or is it just our imagination? The human being in today’s Western world is no longer in touch with the nature that surrounds him. He sometimes even considers it hostile. Our inability to relate with the forest on a deeper and natural level, perhaps caused our minds to play tricks on us…