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The Erotic Art of Namio Harukawa
November 28, 2011 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Japanese artist Namio Harukawa (NSFW) has a singular vision/obsession: women in charge. In virtually all of his paintings and drawings, women radiate the bemusement of the Mona Lisa as they are sexually serviced by men who appear to be little more than appendages of the women’s sexual organs. Astride the faces of hapless males, the women are magnificent in their utterly cruel detachment.

- The Erotic Art of Namio Harukawa
posted by beshtya (50 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
Huh, I see these all over BDSM sites and I never knew the artist's name. The, ah, "technical term" for the fetish is smothering.
posted by desjardins at 8:39 AM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I must admit he draws sexy women.
posted by jonmc at 8:39 AM on November 28, 2011


Lots of big ladies too.

Well, he certainly has a type.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:46 AM on November 28, 2011


His large women remind me of R. Crumb.
posted by zzazazz at 8:59 AM on November 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, gross. What is this woman thinking?
posted by Yakuman at 9:08 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The way the jaw-line connects to the crotch is kind of the most interesting things about these.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:17 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Erotic Art of Namio Harukawa

Art? Sure. Erotic? I guess maybe for some people.

How about we agree to call it "Fetish Art" and leave each person to decide whether it's erotic?
posted by alms at 9:35 AM on November 28, 2011


This is a man who knows what he likes.
posted by Foam Pants at 9:38 AM on November 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


one man's fetish is another man's art
I am taken with the Utah Perspective: if it ain't vanilla (ie, biblical, conventional, man on top of woman and that is all) it is kink.
posted by Postroad at 9:38 AM on November 28, 2011


"Erotic Art" is a perfectly good label. Harukawa's intentions are clear, so even though a relatively small number of his audience would actually be turned on by his work, it's still art with an erotic focus.

But I guess it beats the usual "That isn't really art!" complaint. (I doubt we're about to hear "My kid could do that!") Score one for draughtsmanship.
posted by maudlin at 9:40 AM on November 28, 2011


I think everything we call "erotic art" is only erotic to some people.
posted by desjardins at 9:46 AM on November 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I had a girlfriend who would tumbl this stuff all the time. Thanks for putting a name to this!
posted by modernserf at 9:47 AM on November 28, 2011


Nthing the R. Crumb women types, as well as the "Crumbian" male submissiveness.

And Nathancaswell, yeah that use of the complimentary jawline is pretty interesting int he way it basically renders the men full sized penises.

These are some powerful women with powerful needs and big powerful healthy drives.

The men are defined by humiliation, extreme, almost gleeful clinical utilization as human sized sex toys without any inner drive. They're completely objectified.
posted by Skygazer at 9:51 AM on November 28, 2011


I have to wonder what this guy's self-esteem is like. And what did his mother put him through as a kid?
posted by crunchland at 9:54 AM on November 28, 2011


one man's fetish is another man's art
I am taken with the Utah Perspective: if it ain't vanilla (ie, biblical, conventional, man on top of woman and that is all) it is kink.


A kink?! I just call that having a modicum of creativity. Utah'ians would get less shit with more positions and less wives! :)
posted by alex_skazat at 9:56 AM on November 28, 2011


I have to wonder what this guy's self-esteem is like.

Probably just fine?

He's drawing out a fantasy. That's better than, I dunno, ignoring it, repressing it, hiding it, making himself believe he doesn't have it, making himself guilty for thinking about it.

He likes what he likes and is comfortable enough with sharing it. That's pretty damn healthy. How many fantasies do we all have that we can't even talk about to a loving partner, because of embarrassment?

And these drawings? They're great. Best art I've seen in months.
posted by alex_skazat at 10:00 AM on November 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


"The, ah, "technical term" for the fetish is smothering."

That or "facesitting"... a moderately common fetish, judging from what I see over at Fetlife, where about 5000ish people express it as an interest.

(Fetlife is probably the most popular, least commercial of the fetish-oriented communities out there. Very interest-oriented and reputation/who-you-know oriented, without being a complete skeezy meatmarket. Reminds me of a kinky LJ, really. Not that LJ wasn't kinky enough, in circles...)
posted by markkraft at 10:10 AM on November 28, 2011


I've seen weirder (also from Japan, funnily enough), but some of these are still sort of fascinatingly strange. It's interesting that a lot of them have either a very unsettling sort of framing (like the one with the kid watching) or else suggest their own narrative.
posted by anaximander at 10:13 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tomorrow: The Erotic Art of Dolcett.
posted by clarknova at 10:17 AM on November 28, 2011


alex_skazat: And these drawings? They're great. Best art I've seen in months.

Yeah, they're beautifully rendered and the technique looks to be masterful. It's easy to overlook that because of the subject matter, I think.

One other thing, these drawings are also pretty fucking funny. It would be great thing to put these up in one's office, provided one's clients weren't prudes. I would be interesting to see people's reactions.

But probably not if one was a doctor or a lawyer.


Well, maybe a divorce lawyer's office might work...
posted by Skygazer at 10:23 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


It would be interesting...
posted by Skygazer at 10:24 AM on November 28, 2011


Crumb? What about Botero?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:47 AM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


...ahem Coop ...
posted by djrock3k at 11:04 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have to wonder what this guy's self-esteem is like. And what did his mother put him through as a kid?

You don't know any openly kinky people, do you?
posted by desjardins at 11:08 AM on November 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


(Confidential to women in pictures. . .I'll gladly do what you apparently want, but please don't restrain me or hurt me. That sorta ruins it for me.)
posted by Danf at 11:32 AM on November 28, 2011


None of this stuff particularly shocks me, because, you know, I've had access to the internet for a while; it's always interesting to see an artist with a definite and specific fetish do riffs off of that fetish. (People have already mentioned Crumb and Coop, so let me toss out mamabliss, Rebecca of Housewives at Play, and Tom of Finland (be ready for serious NSFWness if you do a GIS on any of them).)
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:50 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sardax (NSFW google search) is another talented, well-known name in femdom circles.

Less fetishy and more sci-fi/fantasy is Jhoneil Centeno (somewhat NSFW)
posted by desjardins at 12:10 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had a girlfriend who would tumbl this stuff all the time. Thanks for putting a name to this!

Did you take the hint?
posted by a shrill fucking shitstripe at 12:38 PM on November 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Did you take the hint?
Look through my posting history.
posted by modernserf at 1:08 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


>women with powerful needs and big powerful healthy drives

Hey, if both people want to do this, I don't care, but what exactly is healthy about wanting to smother someone?
posted by Listener at 1:48 PM on November 28, 2011


Maybe you could draw us a Venn diagram of which sexual needs are Unambiguously Healthy and which aren't.

It's not my thing (and "Hey look! Porn!" stikes me as a weak FPP), but, come on. If it's not (permanently) harming anyone, then the first part of your comment already answered the second. The burden of proof is on the one suggesting it's unhealthy.
posted by regicide is good for you at 2:18 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing these women are larger sized because they contain oxygen tanks.
posted by orme at 2:47 PM on November 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


> The burden of proof is on the one suggesting it's unhealthy.

I'm not suggesting anything. I just can't see what would be called healthy here.
posted by Listener at 3:04 PM on November 28, 2011


So you're suggesting that it's unhealthy.
posted by Drexen at 3:09 PM on November 28, 2011


I'm not suggesting anything. I just can't see what would be called healthy here.

I'm imagining the artist as Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show: "Well, I didn't draw them for you!" and then he stalks away in a huff, heels striking the pavement...

Seriously, though, you may need to get out more. Or, when staying in, read more widely. This is all pretty gentle stuff.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:09 PM on November 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


A friend of mine (who grew up in Tokyo and lived there for a year after finishing college in the States) once described Japan to me as a "bastion of misogyny." She told me that she was regularly groped on the subway, and even young schoolboys had a habit of steepling their hands together and forcefully shoving them between her legs, yelling loudly in triumph as they did so. To her chagrin, this wasn't regarded as anything out of the ordinary.

I wonder if someone with more knowledge of Japan than I do might agree with the suggestion that this art is intended to be reactionary in some way? I did notice that the artist included a picture of a young woman being groped and harassed by group of men on the subway, and I thought that was a very startling and interesting juxtaposition, given the other images on the blog.
posted by duvatney at 3:12 PM on November 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


WHOOP WHOOP ABANDON THREAD, WHOOP WHOOP, ABANDON THREAD
posted by nathancaswell at 3:13 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


And if you're serious, Listener, the answer is that if you have a kink, expressing it and indulging in it enables you to maintain a balanced and healthy mental outlook, because you're not hiding and surpressing an important aspect of a core part of yourself (your sexuality) and can instead use it to experience pleasure and satisfaction. Which is a healthy way to live.

To have kinks is an entirely natural (though not necessarily requisite) part of being human, but if you want to make the argument that it's unhealthy, go ahead and do so rather than hiding behind unanswerable questions like "What exactly is healthy about this?" What exactly is healthy about, say, still life drawing?
posted by Drexen at 3:15 PM on November 28, 2011


It's sadly no surprise to hear BDSM activities called unhealthy. Fetishism, fetishistic transvestism and sadomasochism are still considered psychological disorders by the WHO, despite an almost total lack of credible science in the area. It could be argued that the least healthy aspect of kink is having to hide it from the world at large.
posted by Lorin at 3:37 PM on November 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I love his work, always have. Art is the ability to share what words cannot say, thoughts cannot express...Sexual exploration is in itself an art form. Not only is this work interesting and profound, it is sexy as hell!
posted by gypseefire at 5:52 PM on November 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not suggesting anything. I just can't see what would be called healthy here.

Maybe that's the point, in some ways - the artist is trying to draw our attention to some fairly unsettling undercurrents in our culture.

However, I thoroughly approve of this post.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:29 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if someone with more knowledge of Japan than I do might agree with the suggestion that this art is intended to be reactionary in some way?
do
Maybe, but fundamentally the artwork here is exploring the kink known as smothering or facesitting, and it's a pretty common kink as far as kinks go.

You mentioned "groping" on trains. Yeah, it is a social problem, but it's really more to do with the fact that trains can be incredibly crowded in Japan - it's not that society permits this sort of behaviour, it's just that perpetrators can get away with it.

Being identified as a chikan (or groper) is a sure way to face ostracism and social exclusion. However, like anywhere else, women don't usually report this behaviour out of fear or embarassment.

As a result, there are now special cars reserved for women only.

As for little boys jamming their hands up each others' backsides, it's all part of "skinship"; it's part of social bonding, and grown men do it (you hafta be pretty drunk, tho).

As well, any male English instructor can tell you stories of being groped by students. I've had my ass grabbed and my balls fondled by my students. It was shocking at first, but, it's pretty normal. Kids are being curious, and kids are also very tactile - many children (and even some adults) need to touch something (in this case a foreign teacher) in order to understand it, and casual touch is also a bonding activity with children.

In middle school in Canada, boys often fight. Why? They need physical contact, but friendly physical contact is forbidden in Western culture. In Japan, my male students would often old hands, hug each other, sit on one-anothers' laps, and, yes, even poke each other up the bum. I had my ass poked more than a few times.

However, groping and fondling strangers on the train (it's happened to me btw) is not kosher, but is more of a crime of opportunity. Similar social problems also happen in "more enlightened' western countries.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:54 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'm cheesed off several people claim I said it was unhealthy. I didn't. Just the word "healthy" struck me very oddly. Thinking about it since the time of my original innocent question, the females aren't real but just the fantasy object of the artist, so they can't be healthy of themselves. Healthy for the guy to indulge his fantasy? Okay, maybe. But this idea, from the OP:

>magnificent in their utterly cruel detachment

is what doesn't jive with healthy for me. I've seen cruelty, and I've known people into fantasies that are not mine, and I know the difference between fantasy and actual cruelty. Cruelty magnificent?

Still and all, I didn't see or say anything was unhealthy, just that I didn't see "healthy." The world does not divide into such wordy dualisms as some people are tiresomely insisting.
posted by Listener at 9:01 PM on November 28, 2011


Well, you did ask if it was healthy to want to smother someone, right? Anyway, the fantasy here is not the desire to smother someone, it's the desire to be smothered, and in some ways dominated. However, from my point of view, the artwork here is a little more complex than simply illustrating smother fantasies (which is what makes the pictures so interesting, at least to me).
posted by KokuRyu at 9:08 PM on November 28, 2011


I have no recollection of modeling for this guy. Musta been wasted.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:51 PM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


young schoolboys had a habit of steepling their hands together and forcefully shoving them between her legs, yelling loudly in triumph as they did so.

Ah yes, the dreaded kancho. It is most certainly not done only to women, I can assure you. After my first week, I taught all the kids lessons with my back to the wall.

(it's happened to me btw)

holy crap I thought I was the only guy to have this happen. During the Tanabata festival one night on the train through Hiratsuka the train was wicked crowded and these 2 drunk girls were in front of me pressed into me, and while I'm not sure which one it was I got pretty thoroughly felt up and always wondered if it was accidental or not because you just don't hear about this happening to dudes.
posted by Hoopo at 9:59 PM on November 28, 2011


I'm a guy, and only guys do this to me.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:19 PM on November 28, 2011


well it was pretty crowded. Coulda been anyone I guess...
posted by Hoopo at 10:26 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Listener: "Okay, I'm cheesed off several people claim I said it was unhealthy. I didn't. Just the word "healthy" struck me very oddly. Thinking about it since the time of my original innocent question, the females aren't real but just the fantasy object of the artist, so they can't be healthy of themselves."

There a real, actual women who smother men and enjoy it. And they're perfectly healthy in doing so. The only unhealthy thing is never fulfilling your kink because you're afraid of how others might judge you when you indulge in it.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:10 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Fetishism, fetishistic transvestism and sadomasochism are still considered psychological disorders by the WHO..."

They were into baked beans, too.
posted by Mike D at 6:56 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


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