Takeshi Haguri is an artist from Nagoya, Japan, who creates incredibly detailed wooden sculptures of traditional figures from Japanese art and culture. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Haguri created series of works depicting musicians, “Yankees” (delinquent Japanese youth), and melancholic outlaws. His more recent works, featured here, are modeled after traditional prints from Edo-period (1603-1868) Japan, such as Toyokuni Utagawa’s “Kauraiya: Portrait of an Actor on Stage” and Kuniyoshi Utagawa’s “Lu Zhishen, the Tattooed Priest” from the 108 Heroes of the Suikoden. In a current series titled Otokogi (meaning “chivalry”), Haguri features a cast of men wearing fundoshi (undergarments) while standing proudly and wearing masks of traditional creatures and characters, such as the long-nosed tengu and clownish Hyottoko.
Several of Haguri’s works are covered in beautifully painted tattoos in the style of traditional Japanese art: dragons coil around torsos, koi fish arch over shoulder blades, and sakura bloom across arms and legs. Created by Haguri’s apprentice, Miki Nagasaki, the tattoos signify an interesting reversal of 2D and 3D art; instead of woodblock prints on flat surfaces, Haguri’s wooden sculptures transform the traditional images onto dynamic, wooden “bodies.” Drawn from the rich archives of art, myth, and cultural memory, these characters (and their tattoos) can be viewed and appreciated from all angles. By exploring tradition through a different medium, Haguri reinvests age-old images and artistic practices with his beautiful and contemporary style. (Via Sweet Station)