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Normal Posting will now be resumed following my break. Thanks for visiting mitchmen! (Mar 12th 2017)

Friday, 12 April 2013

Some Classic Japanese Bondage Art

While researching art for my A-Z of Fetish artists, I came across these images filed by me under the name 'Sabu'. I now know that is not the name of the artist, but of the magazine they were published in. I would dearly love to know the correct attribution(s). Can any of my readers help put an artist's name to any of these pictures?

No 1
This beautiful portrait of a young man reminds me of the film character named 'Sabu' who starred in Jungle Book type stories with elephants and other wild animals. There is a signature on the picture which begins with R but I can't relate it to any 'R' s in my collection. The fact that the name is not written in Japanese characters makes me doubt whether it is in fact a Japanese artist at all. The sharply defined shadowing is rather modern and very distinctive.
 
No 2 - The Victim by Mizukage Ryoji
(identified by a reader - thanks!)
He doesn't look like a victim, does he? The treatment of the jeans is highly erotic. The whitening-out of the cock is standard Japanese censorship practice, something of an oriental mystery to us. The identity of the artist may be contained in the Japanese characters on this image but I'm afraid I can't read them. At first sight it seems different in style to the  portrait above, but the treatment of facial shadows is similar. You can see the same technique in the double spread picture below, particularly the character on the left whose face is highly stylised.

 No 3
It's a real shame this image is spread across two pages as the bondage depiction is terrific, much more interesting than No 2. The victim's muscularity and handsome face stand out from his more anonymous tormentors. It's difficult to portray suspension convincingly but this works quite well. That's down (I think) to the simplicity of the rope restraints/supports and the careful positioning of the background figures.

This image is also of interest for the traditional, Japanese clothing of the central background figure (a fisherman?). This could almost be Okawa but he usually depicts softer-looking boys as his captives. The bizarre combo of the left most character, sun-glasses and long johns, provides a most modern contrast.

 No 4
I enjoy images of men shown while being tied up and 'tying the knot' between the legs is a particularly sensual 'Shibari' moment. Unfortunately the excitement of the illustrator doesn't quite make it to the page here, the captive's pose is rather stiff, he's not reacting to the bondage at all and the whole composition has come out looking a bit flat. Hands are always a challenge to the artist and they are a major feature of this composition. He's had mixed success here, but he's in good company, just look at any Renaissance painting and you'll see similar results. There's an even more puzzling hand in the picture above (No 3 extreme left). Accurate realism doesn't always serve hands and feet very well, they often look more convincing if they are exaggerated and chunky. I always say Etienne's craggy feet look more like feet than feet do.

 No 5
Bondage-wise this is the best of the lot, in my view. The arched, lithe body straining against the ropes and pain etched into the (cute) victim's face create terrific erotic drama, even the shimmering, erased cock seems like a deliberate artistic element! The elaborately decorated cushioning adds what seems like a fiendishly oriental twist, comforting the strained body, but forcing it outwards against the restraints. Interestingly, though, this detail and the twist of the victim's head towards it distracts attention from the cock ropes pulling at the front. The V-shaped tie with ends disappearing out of the picture is a popular device in Japanese bondage imagery and I suspect it contains meaning which is lost on Westerners. It reminds me of a musical string being plucked but I can't relate that to an erotic message, I don't suppose the pun works in Japanese.

No 6
This example is less successful, the doubled up legs completely immobilise a more mature victim, but, like No 4, the pose is stiff and although the ropes cut into the body you can't 'see' his weight pulling down on them. The setting for this torment, with it's cross work of beams is very much in the style of  Okawa but the perspective is less well executed. The curly treatment of the leg hair in this picture is similar to Mishima's style but his men usually have strongly outlined, angry eyes, quite unlike this artist.

No 7
The final image has two ingredients which I approve of, the simplicity of the bondage and the clothing.  'Less is more' as an adage applies to fetish art just as much as the real world and for me simple rope restraint like this creates the illusion of a genuine captivity, rather than a carefully staged dungeon role-play. The underpants have a similar 'normalising' effect and their practical conventionality gives us a glimpse of this man's character. He could be a maverick banker abducted by an angry, ruined client seeking compensation of some sort. In the Japanese context they also have the virtue of sidestepping censorship and allowing us a tantalising glimpse of the substantial assets at his disposal.

If anyone can shed any light on the authorship of these images, please do let me know via the comments facility.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

No.2 "The Victim" is by Mizukage Ryoji.

Mitchell said...

Many thanks anon!