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The Eroticism of Gyoshi (Looking up)

Drawing: by Gen Hikage / Edited by Atsushi Tanigawa
Publisher: Ronso Co. Jp.
Printed by Chuou Seihan Printing Corporation. Jp.
Book Format: Hard Cover 15.5x21.8cm. / 139 pgs bw.
language: English, Japanese
ISBN: 978-4-8460-1770-5
Publishing Status : Pub Date: November 2018 Active
List Price: $18
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The Eroticism of Gyoshi (Looking Up) By Atsushi Tanigawa 

 Even so, what is gyoshi in Gen Hikage’s work? For a quick answer, you could examine any image in the series of illustrations divided into four seasons. In many compositions, even those that verge on the obscene, – and here it may be appropriate to distinguish the erotic from eroticism itself – we see that “looking up” differs subtly from voyeurism and so-called peeping in essential ways. Peeping consists of unilaterally directing ones gaze somewhere; the gaze is not returned by the other person. Edogawa Ranpo aptly used the expression “the invisible cloak desire,” and indeed those who peep must always hide in an “invisible cloak” and never be caught. In the illustrations of Gen Hikage, on the hand, the male viewer, whether in the guise of a boy or middle-aged man, appears in the scene or just outside it, a third party, gazing up at the woman from below. The image is clearly identified with the viewpoint of the painter and viewer, a participant. The female subject, furthermore, gazes off in unexpected directions, sometimes meeting and returning the gaze of male viewer, the painter, us, in a direct eye-to-eye confrontation. So even though such scenes can be taken for peeping, and indeed some works are entitled "peeping", the basic elements of the image cannot be construed as peeping.

 Some might regard this style as a contemporary version of ukiyo-e shunga (erotic arts), pointing to a woman’s obscene look or a variety of silly elements. But let's be careful. The subject of Gen Hikage's drafting is neither the entanglement between men and women nor sex. Regardless of how his male figures approach the girls, peep at their crotches, appear to be reaching out for them, still they never touch or come into close contact with each other. It is nothing more than a drama of the gaze, played out between the viewer in the picture, the woman who is viewed, and the spectator outside of the picture (along with the painter) who views the whole scene. There is even a dog and a cat's eye perspective involved there.

(Philosopher of Aesthetics, Art Critics)

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