Bowing to art

SEX in Japan was free of guilt or sin before the Europeans arrived, and erotic art was a source of sexual stimulation, instruction and ribald humour.

But good manners meant expressions of lust had to be sublimated, well at least in art, and lovers were often depicted with poker faces and the only sign of arousal were curled toes.

Shunga: the erotic art of Japan of the 18th and 19th centuries, at Kidogo Arthouse, includes copies of the “spring pictures” books, a series of erotic and beautiful woodcut illustrations.

Kidogo’s September line-up is a mixed bag of styles, but all the exhibitions relate to Japan in some way.

Fremantle artist Julie Podstolski was captivated by the ethereal beauty of the geiko, a geisha from Kyoto, on her first visit to Japan in 2003.

Since then she’s been back more than 13 times, surreptitiously taking photographs of the camera- shy women, which are then transformed into beautiful portraits using coloured pencils.

Her exhibition Entranced features these works and a nod to an earlier fascination—birds.

In this case the feathered kind on South Mole.

• Stewart Scambler, curator David Forrest and Julie Podstolski. Photo
by Jenny D’Anger


But like the geiko, birds proved difficult to photograph.

“Neither will wait for you,” Podstolski says.

“But with birds you don’t have to feel guilty about photographing them.”

Another exhibitor, Stewart Scambler, is a leading authority on ceramics, specialising in wood-firing.

He’s spent time in Japan and is friends with many of the sculptors there, so his work has an exotic hybrid quality.

“My Japanese friends say my work is too Australian, and my Australia friends say it is too Japanese,” he says.

The clay in Scambler’s pieces come from Beverly and the wood from his York property, and a number of his works are embossed with scallop shells, some locally sourced and others from Tasmania.

Shunga, Entranced and New woodfired forms are at Kidogo Arthouse, Bathers Beach, until September 20.


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