Tuesday, February 2, 2010

High Art of Samura Hiroaki

When I behold the astonishing work of Samura Hiroaki, I reflect on the pointlessness of debating High, Low, and Fine art.

Samura's The Love of the Brute (and Bradherley's Coach, another towering work) are mind-bending ero-gro (guro), and definitely Great Art.

Those who engage in the demeaning practice of relegating works of art to ghettos, galleries and museums often base their judgments on their own personal comfort levels with the subject matter. They seem incapable of evaluating the skill of the artist because they are blinded by the glare of their own inhibitions and they fear the career consequences of championing what they've been schooled to consider "trash".

The solution is to render irrelevant those who ghetto-ize material such as this, those nose-in-the-air tragics handicapped by a moral barometer that has no place in art.

These self-appointed guardians of mainstream acceptability spend their lives canonizing saints of artistic blandness while stitching circles of influence around themselves and their fawning acolytes.

Much of Samura's work, and the work of artists such as Jun Hayami, is unavailable in America because printers refuse to handle it, and most publishers fear the repercussions of publishing it.

What type of free society have we become that we fear written and illustrated expression? Why is freedom so damn conditional these days that the word itself is being redefined?

We should be shot for using it so loosely.

Why have we allowed our tastes and choices to be decided by an invisible cultural dictatorship whose only desire is dominion?

Who canceled the human race, and substituted it with a backwards human crawl to oblivion?

With exceptions, our planet has become a complex support system for frightened, paranoid, uninformed, ignorant lemmings. The exceptions are the fuckers raping these lemmings and a small minority who see it as it really is.

Great art shakes us like a bawling baby and questions everything we've been taught.

It peels the epidermis back and rubs our face in the excrement of our dreams and nightmares.

Most importantly, Art slaps us awake, and reminds us that most of what we know isn't... going... to... fuckin... save us, but it will sure make the journey fascinating.

Samura's The Love of the Brute and Jun Hayami's...

... are remarkable for their purity of vision and total indifference to the irrelevant sensibilities of a world that has exchanged truth with commerce.

Although it's the right of any publisher or printer to refuse to take a job on, the tragedy is that they clearly equate art such as this with criminality and immorality; they're unable to separate the work from the reproduction of the work.

The separation and understanding of the differences between what is private and what is public are keys to why extraordinary art such as this has emerged from Japan.

The production of er-gro (Erotic-Grotesque) art like this is not in any way considered akin to criminal or immoral behavior in Japan. The country has a rich tradition of work of this nature, a tradition launched by a movement in the 20's and 30's. Focusing primarily on the malformed and horrific, it broadened its definition to include sexuality, deviance, and bodily corruption.

And as depicted in these scans, Western cinema has had a potent influence on the genre also. It is impossible to experience these images without reflecting on Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust...

... a film whose poster art is re-imagined with glee in the work at the top of the page.

In a peculiar way, ero-gro reinforces the status quo by illuminating its stark opposite (the "corruption" of the status quo), but let's not kid ourselves that it doesn't also express our inner anarchy, and let's not pretend that it doesn't raise a wet, dripping flag of truth about our primal selves. And by existing, I would argue, provides a catharsis.

Without that catharsis... well, you figure it out. Then take a look at sex crime figures in Japan versus sex crime figures in the U.S.

What other so-called High Art does all this so brilliantly?


  1. Um,

    The Love of The Brute is actually the work of Hiroaki Samura, whose best-selling action manga Blade of The Immortal is currently published by Dark Horse in the US. In Japan you can apparently do both mainstream and S/M comics without anybody raising an eyebrow.

  2. Jaako -- thanks for the clarification on this; my confusion.

    Yes, I have BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL, and should have been more diligent.

    Corrections made thanks to you.

  3. Jaako -- yes, you can switch between both in Japan.

    Director of last year's Best Foreign Film Oscar, DEPARTURES, also makes pink fil;ms (MOLESTER TRAIN series and SERIAL RAPE from Nikkatsu).

  4. d -- yes, quite incredible. Thought you'd appreciate them.

  5. Thanks for the info. I'm an instant fan of this guy...