Words: Erin Irwin
Using a playful blend of the historic and the contemporary inspired by her Japanese-New Zealand heritage, artist Aiko Robinson creates works that straddle the line between romance and humour. Now represented by Gow Langsford Gallery, Robinson works with printmaking and ink on paper, modernising Edo period Shunga-inspired erotica in provocative and colourful (in both senses of the word) compositions.
“My initial interest in Shunga sprouted out of the criticism from my academics at university that my work was ‘too safe’ and ‘too cute’”, says Robinson, “in response to this, I gave them pornography. What started as a practice more concerned with show and shock factor however quickly turned into my passion.”
Using negative space and confounding perspectives, the artist produces bodies that intertwine suggestively amongst traditionally rendered material and foliage. Nude figures are at once concealed and revealed, embodying the importance of contradiction to her practice.
“Historical Shunga reflects the acceptance or celebration of sex in Shinto culture, and values love, mutual pleasure and equality between sexual partners,” says the artist “I am interested in how these idealised visions of the Shunga artist might compare to prevailing ideas regarding pornography in contemporary society.”
Robinson completed her Masters of Printmaking at Tokyo University of the Arts in 2020, having previously graduated from Elam School of Fine arts with an Honours degree. She has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions across New Zealand and Japan.
This article was posted 12 April 2023.
Image: Aiko Robinson, Under the shade of the trees, 2023. Watercolour and ink on paper, 76 x 104.5cm. Courtesy: the artist and Gow Langsford Gallery.