Yasumasa Morimura

“I keep taking photographic self-portraits because of my fascination with being seen.” Daughter of Art History. Photographs by Yasumasa Morimura, Aperture, 2003, pp226

The words ‘looking’ and ‘seeing’ are debatable within an art context; for generations art historians and critics have argued the meaning within the visual art vernacular, whilst art practitioners have tirelessly communicated their opinion through their work. Morimura’s fascination with ‘seeing’ is not based on his need of being seen but is heavily rested in the interpretation of ‘seeing’ the illusion of gender, culture, appropriation, comodification, and the sometimes obsessive relationship found between the East and West.

In the series Daughter of Art History Yasumasa Morimura inserts himself into the work of the great Masters of art leaving the viewer with an unsettling yet dramatically beautiful effect. By transforming and inserting himself into the artworks of Goya, Rembrant, Kahlo and others, his work could be interpreted as an homage to the artists that he most greatly respects, however, on deeper analysis, it can also be viewed as a cultural statement on many (still) taboo categories of debate – masculinity, femininity, essentialism and the appropriation of historical works.

Morimura’s artistic process is pain stakingly detailed; not all of the works are digital manipulations. He spends a lot of time re-creating an environment (sometimes to perfect scale) and focuses a great deal in sourcing costumes, makeup and props. Digital manipulation is then used to fine-tune the image and further experiment with the photograph. Morimura tends to include kitsch or popular culture icons in some of the works; this reference to popular culture from both the East and West signifies the transition of technological advances in art practices as well as exploring the value, or de-valuing, of art history.

Morimura’s work represents many different aspects of contemporary visual art being produced today. Whether it be a sense of cultural disconnection, experimentation with process, his tireless pursuit for (in)perfection, the list goes on. All of these signifiers interconnect with the pursuit of identifying the self, which Morimura does so in a strikingly beautiful, disturbing and almost comical manner.

Morimura’s career has spanned over twenty years and has included many international solo showings. He is represented by various established art institutions and has been published in numerous art publications.


Barco Negro on a table
March 28 – April 30, 2003

This isn’t a Duchamp, or is it?
Yukio Fujimoto, Morimura Yasumasa
November 1 – December 18, 2004

Vermeer’s Room
July 2-July 30, 2005


The Genesis of “I”
September 2 – October 10, 2016