Hajime Sorayama

There is a frightening intensity to Sorayama's work, as if there is a provocative need to both arouse and shock the viewer, coupled with a painstaking perfectionism and technical brilliance few artists ever achieve.

So what is it that inspires this charming, friendly and surprisingly modest artist to push moral and sexual boundaries to such an extreme? Certainly the desire to expose the more forbidden side of sexuality is apparent in many of his most recent paintings. Perhaps it's Sorayama's belief that he must engage his audience with more than just visual stimulation, but in fact should question contemporary values and introduce alternative views even if the outcome is ridicule and rejection. Or possibly it is what drives all great artists, an overwhelming and insatiable passion to create, to integrate one's own uniqueness into years of inspiration and produce an incredible work of art.

Hajime Sorayama was born in 1947 in Ehime prefecture, Japan. Sorayama entered Shikoku Gakuin University in 1965. After the publication of PINK JOURNAL in 1967, he left the school and entered the Chuo Art School. Graduating in 1969, he was hired at an advertising firm as a comprehensive illustrator. He began working independently as a free-lance illustrator in 1972.

"Art is a kind of tenacity, an insistence upon asserting your own originality," says Hajime Sorayama. "By contrast, superrealism deals with the technical issue of how close one can get to one's object." Since graduating from art school in 1969, Sorayama has been perfecting his own superrealistic illustration techniques while simultaneously raising the level of skill and craftsmanship in the field to new heights.

The career of this first-class illustrator began as the last-ditch effort of an extremely intelligent but highly motivated 20 year old to find his true passion and place in this world. After an unsatisfying attempt at college, studying Greek and then English, Sorayama's childhood affinity for drawing let him to Japan's Chuo Art School. He has since been diligently perfecting his craft, following the credo that technique is a matter of discipline and practice.

According to Sorayama, "Unlike art, illustration is not a matter of emotion or hatreds, but an experience that comes naturally through logical thinking." In 1978 he started drawing robots, and a year later, these female figures began to surface publicly. While Sorayama's fine-tuned technique is superbly suitable for a wide range of subjects, his favorite remains the erotically charged form of a naked woman.

Sorayama enjoys shocking people with drawings that are so similar to the originals as to be indistinguishable. He believes that as an illustrator doing realistic work, it is important to convey the feel of the subject while withholding the idiosyncrasies of the artist. That's not to say, however, that he doesn't appreciate the masters of his genre. For instance, Sorayama says that his favorite artist is Henri Matisse, explaining, "His sensibility gives the canvas the feeling that it is really breathing." And, in fact, many of Sorayama's images look as if they themselves are about to come to life.

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