The Japanese women of Japi Honoo

While looking for interesting art to showcase here, I came across the website of Japi Honoo. I was particularly struck by her imaginative illustrations of Japanese women- their delicate bodies fluid and contorted in pale contrast to their graphic surroundings.

So imagine my surprise when I found that we have written about her work before? I find I have an eye for visuals more than for text and I knew I had not seen these images before, but as I put them together with her other artwork, I could see the connection between the two as well as the diverse skills of this talented artist.

Honoo’s work has elements of the surreal and gothic firmly entrenched. The way that bodies are stretched, contorted and manipulated are both graceful but unnerving. Nipples become spider webs, flowers, and power buttons- making reference to, but clearly breaking from, reality. The highly stylized Japanese faces also contribute to the sense of otherworldliness that the illustrations seem to suggest. Other oddities find their way into the compositions, oversized genitalia, tongues, and condoms feature subtly and not so subtly in some of the pieces.

The patterns that fill in the block forms are Japanese- reinforcing the connection to more traditional Japanese styles of block printing or paper cutting. The boldness of the large fields of color and patterns heightens the whiteness of the bodies and draws attention to them. It is unclear to me what the underlying message is in Honoo’s work, issues of sexuality, of femininity, of body image all feature strongly. What I do know is that there is something highly appealing about how she conveys it- and that I look forward to seeing more.

Article by Kayla

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