I believe that art history has a queer dimension―that Michelangelo and Caravaggio, recognized as Old Masters of Western art, and some Greek and Roman sculptors further back in antiquity were homosexual (or bisexual).

As a fellow artist, I sense that there are certain forms and depictions throughout their works that can only be achieved with a homosexual perspective. I refer to this perspective as “homosexual aesthetics.”

When looking at Japanese art, I find similar aesthetics in the works of the Kamakura-period sculptor Unkei (and the Kei school). However, homosexual aesthetics are less apparent in Unkei’s compared to Michelangelo’s. This is because Unkei produced his sculptures with many others at his workshop under his direction, unlike Michelangelo, who created his works solely by himself. And yet, I certainly sense a queer reality that Unkei has looked straight through, embedded deep inside his works.

The term “homosexual aesthetics” here does not mean direct expressions of homosexuality as seen in gay art. Historically, art began with religious art, and within any religion, a male-centered society that excludes females was formed. The same goes for artists. Until modern times, only males were allowed to occupy that position. Most depictions of the ideal body produced in those male-centered, homosocial communities are male figures. Here is my question. Why have such homosexual aesthetics been accepted in a society where the majority remained heterosexual?

Whether it is in marble, marquetry, or silicone sculpture, sculpting human figures in the style of realism requires a considerable amount of physical stress. Despite this, within figurative sculpture resides the impetuous desire for beauty that drives one to choose such a taxing style. In my opinion, the intensity of this desire is what sublimates homosexual aesthetic into a universal aesthetic.

My artmaking starts with simulating homosexual aesthetics that stand out to me as an anomalous presence among the masterpieces of the past. Through simulation, I experience the impulse of the masters vicariously and of my own. Such homosexual aesthetics hidden behind the history of art are filtered through my senses and amplified in my sculptures. It is my challenge, through my artmaking, to add another layer of reality to art history.

Ichitaka Kamiji