Sugawa Makiko Japanese artist
5 min

What It Means to Be a Doll: The Prosthetic Fairies of Sugawa Makiko

5 min

If you're a fan of Pop Surrealists like Ray Caesar and Mark Ryden, the works of the Japanese artist Sugawa Makiko may also catch your eye. The recurring characters are cute dolls wearing sexy lingerie. As dolls are supposed to, they have elegant prosthetic limbs, often depicted separately from the body.

Sugawa Makiko

Fig. 1. Sugawa Makiko (

 Sugawa Makiko Wave

Fig. 2.

 Sugawa Makiko Japanese artist

Fig. 3.

 Sugawa Makiko mermaid

Fig. 4.

 Sugawa Makiko artist

Fig. 5.

Sugawa Makiko octopus

Fig. 6.

Sugawa Makiko nude

Fig. 7.

 Sugawa Makiko erotic

Fig. 8.

 Sugawa Makiko erotic detail

Fig. 8a.

 Sugawa Makiko erotic art

Fig. 9.

To Lose Is To Find

The thought that any doll is, in fact, a creature with everything prosthetic is what the makers of the Barbie movie haven't reflected upon and what immediately comes to the mind of those who encounter the girls of Sugawa Makiko (b. 1974). The repeating motif of prosthetics, complemented with subtle references to the mermaid's story, is not a weird fetish but a thing Makiko has to live with. After graduating from Kyoto University of Art and Design, she started working as an illustrator. The turning point happened in her thirties. 32-year-old, she survived an amputation of the leg due to the cancer. As she recalls in the interview: "While I was still in hospital, with all sorts of needles and IV tubes in me, my hands were the only part free to move, so I took a sketchbook and started drawing women with prosthetic legs, missing legs, the pictures I'd been looking for." Like in the case of Ray Caesar, the art of Sugawa Makiko stems from a personal disorder, transforming it into beauty.

 makiko Tokyo Startline

Fig. 10.

 sugawa makiko

Fig. 11.

 sugawa makiko prosthetics

Fig. 12.

 sugawa makiko Apple and Rose

Fig. 13. Apple and Rose (

 Hans Bellmer with his doll,

Fig. 14. Hans Bellmer with his doll, 1934 

 sugawa makiko Cover by Akira Uno

Fig. 15. Cover by Akira Uno (

 Cold as it was by Akira Uno

Fig. 15a. Cold as it was by Akira Uno (

  Art by Akira Uno Sugawa Makiko

Fig. 15b. Art by Akira Uno (

 Tatsuhiko Shibusawa

Fig. 16. Tatsuhiko Shibusawa (

The Source of the Strength

The art and her love for dolls helped Makiko accept herself. The artists she is inspired by are Akiro Uno and Hans Bellmer. In his images, Akiro Uno depicts figures with doll-like faces; Bellmer came close to the concept of prosthetics while constructing his assemblages. Speaking of her influences, Makiko also names Tatsuhiko Shibusawa (1928-1987), who canceled his academic studies in the 1950s and turned to literature because of deteriorating health. Shibusawa was known as a devotee of French avant-garde and de Sade's novels' translator, for which he was prosecuted. The process, known as the Sade Trial, lasted for nine years. In 1969, the writer was fined 70,000 yen. 

The Premium edition of this article more on Makiko's influences, on how she finds beauty in para-athletics, and 60 enticing examples of her prosthetic sensuality.

Click HERE for 49 daring examples of Trevor Brown's disturbingly cute BDSM 'Dolls'

Sources: Makiko’s Instagram; WAVE artist Sugawa Makiko on disability in her art (; Amputee runner Makiko Sugawa (; Amputee Venus (