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OVER A QUARTER CENTURY OF DEDICATION TO PROTECTING, PRESERVING AND PROMOTING EROTIC ART.

IMPRESSIONS OF SADAO HASEGAWA by Steve Adonna
He is touted among collectors as Japan's greatest homoerotic artist. His compelling works often depict the perfect male at the height of sexual pleasure. His art, deeply induced by traditional religious and ceremonial rituals borrowed from neighboring Asian cultures, is an art also incited by ideals and beliefs indoctrinated during his life as a Buddhist. Sadly, on November 20, 1999, the body of the gifted artist was discovered in a Bangkok hotel room - Sadao Hasegawa had hung himself to death.

According to Hasegawa's brother, the police who entered the hotel room of the 54 year old artist, reported that the suicide was premeditated and resembled that of a Samurai warrior. A series of orderly clues, including a hand written note from Hasegawa, asking forgiveness for his life, and a portrait of author Yukio Mishima, drawn on a rock, by Hasegawa, were displayed on a table. The famed author, Yukio Mishima, having felt he had reached the point of physical perfection and not wishing to grow old, ended his life by committing harikiri (self-disembowelment) in November 1970. It is possible that Sadao Hasegawa having also felt that his art had reached the point of perfection, chose to end his own life in a manner paralleling that of Yukio Mishima. The mysteries surrounding the death of both men remain deeply rooted in centuries of cultural traditions, philosophies often confusing to the Western mind.

The following anecdote is based on impressions of the Artist, by Mr. Bunkagu Ito, editor in chief of BARAZOKU Magazine. For more than twenty years, Hasegawa was a principal illustrator for BARAZOKU, Japan's preeminent publication for gay men.

“Today, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. In the section of Tokyo, known as Kudan, stands the mighty Yasukini shrine. Directly in from of the shrine is the Maruyama Gallery. It is here, that the opening ceremonies for a show of works by Sadao Hasegawa are being held. From a window in the gallery, a clear view of the Indian Embassy is visible. It was in India, that the birth of Buddha took place. Perhaps, the two masters are eternally inseparable.

There is little doubt that like Buddha, Sadao Hasegawa, had attained complete enlightenment - at least in creation of his art. Upon close study, Sadao's drawings transcend the level of pornography, emulating likenesses found in Buddhist art. This theory is most evident in Hasegawa's rendering of a young man sitting on the pedestal of a lotus flower.

As a young artist, Sadao was most influenced by the drawings of Goh Mishima (also a BARAZOKU illustrator) and Tom of Finland. In 1989, upon the death of Mishima, Hasegawa wrote and article for BARAZOKU, in which he declares `Goh Mishima, a master illustrator of the male physique'.

Over the years, the style of Sadao Hasegawa has undergone major transformations. In 1978, the year he first came to BARAKOZU, Sadao's drawings were reflective of European society. A style, Hasegawa claimed, inspired by the wartime works of Tom of Finland.

It wasn't until the 1980's, when Sadao began making frequent trips to Bali and Thailand, that he devoted himself to the teachings of Buddha. It is art juxtaposed with life that produced the images of Hasegawa's later years. These works are most familiar to us today.”

- - Bungaku Ito, April 5, 2000

A further understanding of the works of Japanese artists Go Mishima and Sadao Hasegawa can be obtained by accessing www.himself.com. For information regarding the sale of works on this site or those featured in this article, please contact the Tom of Finland Foundation at administration or The Accurate Group at accurate@primenet.com.


Two of Hasagawa’s later works inspired by his Buddhist studies


The finely muscled and tattooed sexual warriors of Goh Mishima were an inspiration to Hasagawa


TOM OF FINLAND FOUNDATION 2000

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ENCOURAGEMENT
"My drawings are primarily meant for guys who may have experienced misunderstanding and oppression and feel that they have somehow failed in their lives. I want to encourage them. I want to encourage this minority group, to tell them not to give up, to think positively about their act and whole being." (1990) — Tom of Finland