|The world is harmful|
Eyes, fingers, band-aids, bondage. Rika Ezaki's art combines otherworldly repetitions with lush details to create images at once striking, eerie, and disturbing. Gentle, faded color schemes and delicately curving lines impart a refinement that matches the considered composition and content of Ezaki's art. It's fascinating. It's beautiful. And in its beauty it is seductive and dreadful.
Ezaki's nightmare pictures frequently echo the traditions of Japanese erotica and the Japanese expression of the grotesque. Schoolboys are caught lounging, glancing out at the audience with heavy-lidded eyes, sometimes entangled with lascivious monsters. Schoolgirls are bound like pin-ups, harassed by demons, or skewered on mega-pencils like St. Sebastian.
While I wouldn't call this art Safe For Work, it isn't as graphic as you might imagine. There are no exposed genitals or blood. But this modesty is exactly what makes the erotic subtext of Ezaki's work so deeply disturbing to me. Mind you, the subtext is extremely clear. Themes of abuse, bondage, and all manner of emotionally twisted relationships are on display. Oftentimes, they're softened to seem appealing, even romantic. For example, in Your Gold Lotus, a youth is surrounded with slender female legs. On the surface it seems like a classic foot-fetish image. It is only upon closer inspection that one sees all the shoes are far too tiny, and that all the feet have been bound down into body-horror nubs inside those cute little boots.
Of course, there are two other areas that Ezaki explores exquisitely: lonesome ghost-stories, and super-kawaii, super-monstrous sticker sheets (And OMG I NEED SOME OF THOSE).
Attempted Double Suicide shows a long-haired maiden clutching a skeleton in the moonlight. It suggests a classic folktale, complete with kimono and moths. There are kitsune priests and black flames and filters that would make you utterly certain you're looking at a blockprint on silk. Other works include a schoolgirl whose hair is levitating. It's an understated bit of insinuation that reminds me simultaneously of Alfred Gorey and Rene Magritte.
Then, Ezaki swings far into Western horror imagery with angels, horned devils, crosses, and goat legs. And then there are the sticker-sheets. You'll just have to see them to believe them.
In short, I think Ezaki is marvelous. With a gorgeous style and strange ideas, Ezaki makes things for gazing, things for delving deep into mysterious nightmare worlds.
I highly suggest you give the website some traffic, and perhaps even contact the artist if you see something you like! Despite being in Japanese, don't fear: click on Pix, then the blue link, and you can wander through a complete album of Rika Ezaki's work.