From Japan comes the work of fabulous Sadao Hasegawa (1950 – 1999). Hasegawa’s work really is quite unique, he is a sort of Asian Tom of Finland. His art is both incredibly sexy and an amazing hybrid, influenced by major world cultures.
His work is produced with superb technical skills, using fantastical settings with a nod to William Blake and incorporating Japanese, Indian, South-East Asian and African mythology. Focusing on the muscular male physique, Hasegawa often depicts bondage and SM themes, which, in the context of his stylized fantasy world, have a spiritual, even sacred intensity. I had some difficulty located images I could share here.
Sadao Hasegawa was born in the Tōkai area of Japan in 1950. He was self-taught. In 1973, he had his first exhibition Sadao Hasegawa’s Alchemism-Meditation For 1973 in Tokyo, presenting paintings, collages, drawings and sculptures. In 1990, he published a book of his art, Sadao Hasegawa, still in print. Despite the attention to his work around the world, he refused offers to exhibit overseas, not wanting to distribute his works abroad.
He traveled around Asia, especially to India, Bali and Thailand. The Hindu, Balinese and Siamese imagery reflects in his works with some of Indonesian and Thai words are written on to his works.
He took his own life 1999 in Bangkok. In 2000, the Tokyo Naruyama Gallery exhibited his last works from a request of his family who found a will requesting a posthumous exhibition.
A few days before his death, Hasegawa had lunch with his friend American artist John C. Goss. He showed Goss photos of his latest paintings, a series depicting nude, Hindu-inspired male deities. These works were the ones shown at the memorial exhibition, along with a final series of starkly disembodied and erect phalluses unlike anything else Hasegawa ever created.
The only clues left at the scene of his death were a small piece of rope (he had asphyxiated himself using rope tied around a door knob) and a small stone on which he had painted a portrait of Yukio Mishima (1925 – 1970) the famous Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor, model, film director, and Japanese Nationalist. Hasegawa killed himself on the anniversary of Mishima’s own ritual suicide.