Die bloße männliche Form, eingefangen in klaren und präzisen Linien. Der filipino-japanische Künstler Hajime Yamamoto illustriert reale Männer in den intimsten Momenten, ohne sie zuvor persönlich getroffen zu haben. Seit 2014 präsentiert der junge und kreative Kopf seine Werke in Solo-Ausstellungen, sowohl in Japan als auch in Europa. Auf Instagram bereits ein Hit, gibt es nun alle Teile seiner Reihe „Les Garçons Des Fleurs” auch in Buchform. Zum Release des neuesten Malbuchs „Full Bloom” haben wir mit dem Künstler über seine Werke, die Bedeutung von Erotik und seine Sichtweise auf den männlichen Körper geredet.
What’s it like to live as a gay man in Japan?
Do you feel any kind of stigma in your everyday life?
It’s actually really interesting here, it seems like it doesn’t matter. I met so many people, usually straight (Japanese) at work or even outside socializing and everytime I told them I am gay, I instantly got a “so interesting!” as an answer. Girls usually ask me what it’s like – and some straight men, too. It seems like they have no idea what being gay is like or “looks” like, because sometimes people told me I don’t look gay, haha! Then I need to explain. I never had any stigma to be honest, I am always myself and nobody really minds me being gay. Which I think I’m pretty lucky, because I know it’s different for many people.
Could you lead us through your creative work flow?
How does the production of a new painting begin and end?
I do have many styles and for each of them I do different things and techniques. But, if we are talking about the “Les Garçons des Fleurs” series, it starts with the model sending me a bunch of photos. I always specifically ask for photos with better lightning, because my work is just about lines. So it is necessary for me to see every detail of their bodies. Then I choose the best one, start to draw it, and the fun part is when my model starts to interact with me. Sometimes we talk or video call during the process. It’s nice to show it to them and I feel more connected to them in a way. After finishing the outline I put my signature flower bouquet. Voilà – a new “Les Garçons des Fleurs” is born!
Your work is connecting people all around the world.
Do you feel yourself to be a part of a self created online sub-community?
Yes, absolutely! It became a major part of my life now. I met so many amazing people online and in real life and trying to meet even more in the near future. Knowing some of my models and meeting other creatives through my work as well, truly makes me so happy and very grateful. Connecting people!
“I want my art to show to everyone that every body is beautiful, no matter how you look. You just have to be satisfied with what you’ve been given.”
Is there a special charm to not meeting your models in real life before you paint them naked?
Oh yeah! I feel really special when you entrust me with your most private photos and share the anticipation with me. How I imagine them in real life, how they speak or move, or whether they are big or small … Everyone can be sure that I respect this trust. I think it is something very special.
The men in your pictures always show flowers instead of pubic hair. Can you tell us about the connection between body and nature in your art?
Here in Japan we believe that it’s very important for our general health to be connected with nature. We have a culture here called “forrest bathing”. That’s when you go to the nature and stay there for a while. It was my first inspiration with this series, then I added flowers to represent nature in my work because that’s one of my favorite things and I wanted to add a little femininity … And I think it’s such a nice fantasy that behind our penis actually flowers bloom. I think it’s very pleasant to smell it – unless of course you have pollen allergies. Haha.
Your newest issue Les Garçons des Fleurs – Full Bloom is considered to be the most erotically charged release yet. It differs from the previous issues in the fact that this time, we can see erect penises – so men in more sexual poses. Where do you consider the line to be between erotic and sexual?
I don’t think they are in a sexual pose, I think they are like peacocks showing all their feathers and how beautiful their penises are. Personally, I think the pose is sexual when penetration happens. But I think that can be beautiful and erotic, too – and it’s natural.
You interpret gender conventions in a very contrasty way. The smooth legs and flowers instead of pubic hair is opposed by very manly posing and erected penises. Do you want your art to break body image stereotypes? How do you define masculinity for yourself?
I want my art to show to everyone that every body is beautiful, no matter how you look. You just have to be satisfied with what you’ve been given. Everything else is just personal opinions. Society will always tell us otherwise, but I personally think we just have to take responsibility for our bodies, treat them with respect and love them. I think for me masculinity is about self-confidence and about raising other people; to be kind, humble and compassionate.
Throughout your work, you must have seen hundreds of men naked. What do you consider to be the most beautiful part of a man?
It’s always the eyes!
How do you get rid of social or gender stereotypes to find your true self?
That’s a tough question, because everybody’s journey is different and there really isn’t a prescribed way to find your true self. I think perhaps grasping basic concepts around the differences between sex assigned at birth, sexuality, gender identity and gender expression, is a good start. Also understanding that binary gender is a western concept that is socially constructed and that masculinity/femininity are attributes that any gender can have and act out.
Body and mind: How do you see yourself in the mirror?
I’m just me, I just see me.
Regarding your work: How would you define the cultural differences between asian and western countries? Is it difficult for you to find an audience or models in Japan?
It’s really different. Yes, Asian men are more reserved. That’s why it’s harder for me to find models here.
How do you think about your own body?
My body is a temple and open 24/7, but not in a slutty way. Haha!
Hajime Yamamoto: Les Garçon de Fleur / Full Bloom
Gestaltet & herausgegeben von Paper Affairs, April 2020
Texte in Englisch