花岡和夫のテキスト japanese

The Second Coming of Ophelia

Yasuko Tomita, Curator Yokosuka Museum of Art

 Kazuo Hanaoka's glass engravings have something in common with the Nouveau.
The most frequently utilized motifs in those decorative styles were flowers and plants, which, with their elegant images of “nature,” lent color to modern European cities around 1900. Another prominent motif that was equally essential was the form of a female figure that gave off a sense of unique eroticism.
Many of the female figures were nude, with eyes that were vacant and distant, yielding themselves to the undulating linear forms morphed into long hair or flowing water. Although these figures were based on realistic depictions, a strong sense of fantasy was repeatedly manifested in a common tone in all the depictions created during that period (that is, that fantasy was expressed not only in nude figures, but in any motif that was utilized, including plants and insects).
The same feeling of fantasy can also be perceived from the “nature” images Hanaoka depicts, such as his slightly bowing flowers in bloom, or his nude female figures. Particularly in the latter, the image that is unearthly in its own right manifests an even more seductive world via its superimposition of the material of glass with the sense of substance possessed by water. Needless to say, this image of a “water nymph” is a typical “” motif that can be linked to the image of Ophelia that was portrayed by John Everett Millais.
It must be noted, however, that in comparison to the “” images created in Europe during that period, the images that Hanaoka has brought into existence are far more pristine, while also possessing only a faint scent of decadence. These characteristics were derived from the artistijs sense of form. At the same time, they undoubtedly reflect the formative characteristics possessed by glass engraving, characteristics that derive from the medium's techniques requiring highly refined skills and a cautious attitude. But the reason why his works have attracted my interest is precisely because this artist has continually pursued erotic and fantastic images that utilize motifs of “nature.”
On reflection, erotic expressions are surprisingly difficult to find in the modern Japanese history of craftwork. Decorative styles from around 1900, as represented by Art Nouveau, had quite an influence on the development of Japanese craftwork, but seen from the viewpoint of eroticism, there seems to be a big difference between the two. This essay is not a place to discuss whether that discrepancy simply came from differences in preference, or whether there was some sort of mechanism within the modern Japanese history of craftwork that functioned to transfer eroticism to a different level. However, a variety of problems must be concealed within modern Japanese craftworks to explain the situation in which the spirit of Eros is absent today. The above reflection can lead us to realize that Hanaoka's glass engravings, which manifest enigmatic images of “nature” where realism and fantasy coexist inside transparent glass, are the artist's stealthy acts of resistance toward the absence of Eros in the modern Japanese history of craftwork. (Translated by Taeko Nanpei)