The fine line between pornography and erotic art is something that's been discussed many times within the creative industry. Junior Adesanya, a fashion illustration student at London College of Fashion, talks to Campbell Addy about his career aspirations and how he'd like to bring porno-art into the mainstream.
"Born and raised in south-east London, Plumstead, I was surrounded by many artistic influences from cartoons, video games and television shows. The pivotal change in my career came during the BBC (Billionaire Boys Club) Ice Cream era. Pharrell [Williams] made it cool for black people who like hip-hop to like skating, and he was working heavily with many artists such as Nigo, founder of clothing label BAPE. This opened the door for me as I then started to discover other Japanese artists such as Takashi Murakami and then Mark Ryden. These artists really inspired me to get into fine art, which I embarked on for a couple of years."
However, Adesanya soon became tired of fine art and needed a more creative outlet. "I started to find fine art to be somewhat limiting, which then led me onto illustration. I believe it's a versatile medium as I can apply it to many different fields and areas besides an art gallery" Trying to move away from the limitations of art galleries, Adesanya started looking to Japanese anime, "like Dragonball Z, One Piece, Ghost in the Shell, as well as photographers like Araki" for inspiration. "My subject matter is generally Asian women," he tells me, and "I source a lot of my imagery from Japanese books – although a lot of them I can't read myself - like Yakuza,” and also from “Japanese magazines from the 80s.”
Adesanya began to develop his style into an erotic distortion of anime and illustration. "I label my work 'Tokyo Vice'. It's the Japanese-influenced version of 'Miami Vice' - which was seedy and edgy, accompanied by the influence of Japan. The idea behind my work is to take the sexualised, erotic imagery and bring it to the forefront." He tells me he's "illustrated on to Chinaware," to allow "people to become desensitised, evolving the art into the everyday mundane." As he continues, "To me, the art world is the only place where 'pornography' can be viewed in the context of art." Adesanya offers the example of Jeff Koons' work at the Pompidou - "if you were to take it out of the gallery, is it still art? That's the debate I'm trying to create with my work by bringing it out of the gallery and into our everyday lives."
Artistic profundity aside, Adesanya is also very focussed on developing his career. "The goal with my work is to establish myself as an illustrator and then move into fashion/interior design. As you know I'm studying fashion illustration, so it's something I am very interested in and come into contact with on a daily basis. I hope to move onto creating lifestyle goods [to be] accompanied by my illustrations."
Words: Campbell Addy
Illustration: Junior Adesanya