News Artists Exhibitions Collection Publications Contact


Go Mishima

Cover of SABU 1974 Pencil on paper

With passionate collectors around the world, Mishima Go's Otoko-e (translated 'pictures of men') were rarely exhibited to the public. As a cult figure, Mishima was appointed illustrator for BARAZOKU (The Rose Tribe), the first magazine for gay men in Japan. He then played an important role in the publication of a revolutionary publication SABU. Contrary to prior publications as BARAZOKU, which focused on the aesthetics of western gay culture, SABU established the imagery of Japanese men through short, masculine hair, the 'FUNDOSHI' (traditional loincloth underwear), elaborate tattoos, Japanese swords and hara-kiri (or seppuku - suicide by cutting open the abdominal area). Mishima's work decorated the cover of the magazine from its beginning, and he used the medium as his canvas for the rest of his life.

Mishima was also very close to the famed author Mishima Yukio, and it was he who gave him the nom de plume “Mishima Go”. Having met at a gym through bodybuilding, the two befriended and began spending their time together sketching nude male portraits. Though it was nothing beyond a hobby at first, it would progress into a career that would make Mishima one of the most thought-out gay artists of his time. With a growing audience, he would frequently produce commissioned works, in and outside the country, eventually making way to his magazine contributions.

For this exhibition, 40 works displaying Mishima's various styles and techniques will be shown, alongside “Seppuku-Mishima Yukio”, a series of seven photographs depicting Mishima Yukio engaged in a fictional hara-kiri scene. Photograph by Yato Tamotsu, this work is now considered legendary. Also on display will be vintage photographs of Mishima Yukio, including “Tatenokai and Mishima Yukio” (Tatenokai = private militia led by Mishima Yukio) by Shinoyama Kishin.

Within their distinct ideological world, Mishima Go and Mishima Yukio both rebelled against the rapid westernization of the world around them after the war. Though the aesthetics represented in both of their works show right-winged influences, aside from the political controversy that may arise, their works have shaped and defined a unique gay culture in Japan.