Interview With the Former Tattoo Artist Senju Horimatsu (P2)
7) I love two of your more recent works called ‘Musei’ and ‘Gyokumori’. They have this lovely meditative feel about them. Is there a specific reason why they are orally oriented?
I don’t know if I had a clear idea regarding the oral part of the works. Oral sex is a very intimate thing I think. And usually in pornography the woman is not getting it nearly as much as the men. Also, I have been experimenting with how to balance really explicit sexual content with intimacy and beauty. I am not a person who subscribes to myths like “strangers in the night” or “fifty shades of grey”. Western sexual popular culture is obsessed with the sinful and the forbidden. well, it’s Christianity that has made things forbidden and in turn made us prone to wanting them, perhaps not because they are good for us, but rather because it’s “forbidden”. Like the idea that same sex encounters would be unnatural. Utterly rubbish in my mind, but sadly all to entrenched within western morals.
If we go back to the artworks and look at “Musei” it shows a female ghost giving oral pleasure to a living woman. it is purposefully blurring the borders of reality as we know it. I was also trying to play with the idea that not all females having sex with another female are necessary lesbian. The same would go for men in my mind. How I portray sex is a very personal thing and I have sworn not to censor myself when it comes to this. Besides, one of the women in “Musei” is a ghost and then the question arises if she is still a woman or something completely different? Who can say for sure?
Now this is hard to explain, but I think that the meditative aspect, which is present in many of my works, comes most likely from my own personal view of sex as something eternally connected with intimacy and being close. So even if the sex gets “rowdy” there is no aggression, no possessiveness, no dominance. It is full of summer’s breeze no matter how hot it gets. As for “Gyokumon” I was trying to make everything about the image as tender and fragile as possible, yet still retaining passion and a strong sexual and sensual stroke. She is extending her tongue in the gentlest of ways, very decisive but also very softly. She knows and the flower knows….and then there are a thousand other little secrets hidden in there, but only for the one with an open heart and an open mind.
Most of my images are transitional and with that I am referring to the fact that I want the viewer to imagine a before and what follows the scene I have created. It is in that way meant to stimulate erotic and sexual fantasies which hopefully will lead to other things later on….
8) What’s your favorite movie? Did you see by any change Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai by Jim Jarmusch?
It’s hard to say just one favorite movie because things change all the time. At the present I am immersing myself in many small Japanese dramas about life in general. And contemporary movies that takes place during the Edo period. Japanese of course. I saw “Ghost Dog” a very long time ago, but I remember that I really liked it. Jarmusch is my kind of director. Just as Tom Waits is my kind of artist.
9) Are you ready to discuss your encounter with the ghost as you mentioned on your blog? Or will this be exclusively reserved for your blog?
If I go about it very quickly I can tell you that I was visited by a female ghost when staying at an old Zen temple in Gifu prefecture back in 2013. I have never believed in the existence of ghosts and I can say that i do now either. I know that doesn’t make sense at all. Then again, nothing about ghosts makes much sense, does it?
I was awaken in the middle of a very dark night just before this shape of light soundlessly glided through the closed door and into my room. I was still laying in my bed, on my side with my face outwards to the room. There was no fear and it was really a very soft and tender experience. I don’t know how I could tell it was female but I just felt it. She stood, or floated, at the my bed for about a minute, looking down at me. There was an absolute silence. the she simple drifted out the way she had entered and left me there in the darkness. She had illuminated the room softly and now it was completely black. After a while I had to go to the toilet and then I got a little scared. It was down a long and very dark corridor and I had started to think to much at that point.
In the morning I told my friend about it over breakfast as we were sitting in the temple kitchen. He simply nodded and told me that he had met the ghost the year before in that very same room. Strangely, nobody had mentioned any ghosts the previous evening otherwise I would say that I was fantasizing about it because of that. So the zen monk met a ghost that he firmly thought did not exist. Maybe ghost exist whether we want to or not. I have no answer to that and have not spent any time seeking one either. Only pose the question if there is an answer.
10) Can you make a good living of your paintings or do you have to combine it with other activities? How has the internet contributed to this?
As I am almost not tattooing at all nowadays, the answer is no when it comes to living comfortably on my art. That is if you are measuring “living well” in money. As 28 years of tattooing was a bit to long for me and I feel that I am starting my artist career a tad late, I am very happy I get to spend my days painting and designing books. That way I am terribly happy. I of course need to start making some decent money with the shunga soon, and lately some collectors have been acquiring some of my originals so things are moving in the right direction. I am also not a person who just sits around waiting for things to happen so I am always busy with new plans and strategies. The internet has contributed so much when it comes to someone like myself being able to do what I do. Especially since I can reach such a wide and great audience without traveling to everywhere all the time.
It also helps me in being self reliant and self made. I do not have to rely on the kindness of strangers, as she said in that famous play back then. I have always made a point of defining myself and the internet helps me to do that. My next step though, is to search for galleries interested in showing my work and to find collectors appreciate my work. perhaps the hardest part of this whole thing.
11) Last February you have published a new book. Can you tell us more about it?
Me and my wife Anna have started a small independent book publishing label called Okaasan Books, and it is on this label we have released a book showing my work between 2013-2017. We use a very high quality printing company and the result came out wonderful. Me and Anna do everything ourselves. Book design, shipping, PR, communication….everything. It’s a lot of hard work but we love to be self sufficient.
The book is called “Kagami – mirror images of a sensual world” consists of 144 pages and features 59 of my shunga paintings along with explanatory texts to each and everyone. Sometimes the text is a erotic short story and sometimes touching on subjects like feminism, gender equality, the crazy idea of “normal”. Some stories are very poetic and perhaps melancholy while others are quite arousing. The print is superb and really helps our design to come alive! it’s a limited numbered edition to a 1000 copies and we have shipped about 400 so far. As of now it is only sold through our website and a few select people we know. Of course we are constantly on the look out for shops and sites that wants to carry our titles, but growing such a network tree takes time.
I really like Senju’s Musei print. The coloring is superb and the image breathes a brooding tranquility despite the explicit presentation. What is your favorite design and why?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!