Artist Spotlight: Cauro Hige

Classic and shocking, delicate and blatantly sexual, Hige's work encompasses enigmas.

BY Advocate.com Editors

April 30 2011 3:00 AM ET

Cauro Hige PORTRAIT X560 | ADVOCATE.COM

Cauro Hige is a Japanese self-taught artist who was born and brought up in Osaka, Japan. He was intensively trained in wood block print since early childhood by his father, who was also a professional artist.

Majoring in Psychology at Kyoto University and being naturally introspective about masculinity — the theme of his work — has helped shape him as an artist. Since he launched his art career in 2008, Cauro has participated in exhibitions in Los Angeles; Sydney; Torremolinos, Spain; and Tokyo.

He is a Tom of Finland Foundation contest winner. His work has been featured in magazines, notably the online art magazine Noisy Rain. The book 100 Artists of the Male Figure, which includes some of his work, has just been released from Schiffer Publishing. An exhibition, "East Meets West," will take place at Agora Gallery, NYC, in March, 2012.

Why are you an artist?
I didn't intend to be an artist at all, though I sometimes painted just for pleasure. I actually devoted myself to a job in psychology for a decade after graduating. But living conditions suddenly changed, and I made up my mind to make a living in the field of art. Considering my painting style at that time, I felt there was room for me. But I never dreamed I would follow in my father's footsteps.

What catches your eye?
The meaning of masculinity has surely been one of the most important themes in my life so far. So all the attractive men, from a commoner to a movie star, catch my eye. I'm also interested in beautiful living things like animals, birds, fish, butterflies, and flowers. And I have a weakness for cutely designed small toys and sundry goods.

Tell us about your process or techniques.
I believe that a work's primary key lies in its composition, so I spend a lot of time planning before I start painting. I mean, I tend to set every detail in advance and then go on painting according to the blueprint. And it's natural that I should try different techniques, depending on each painting. I would get bored and stay undeveloped as an artist if I kept on doing anything monotonous.

How do you choose your subjects?
When an idea occurs to me, I examine whether it's unique or not, and whether or not it's worth painting. I don't feel the need to paint a picture that some other artist is likely to paint, or make a piece of art that could easily be accomplished with a camera. Now I'm happily limiting myself to the male figure and trying to create a new world that makes a difference.

How do you describe your work?
I guess it's based on the sensitivity peculiar to the Japanese. I'm surprised to find how deep my own taste is rooted in the Japanese sense of beauty. And in most cases, I don't forget to give my work some flavor of male sexiness.

What makes a good artwork to you?
A work that appeals to me always has some invention in its style. Invention is different from a mere idea, in the sense that the former has a much longer life and much more influence on others than the latter. And I think what's needed for an artist to invent something new is a refined sense of taste and a logical mind, not a long artistic career or extraordinary technique.

What artists do you take inspirations from and why?
There are so many influential talents I cannot ignore in this world, but I don't think I'm consciously inspired by particular artists. I deliberately avoid being an inferior copy of someone else. It's often the case that what inspires me exists outside the field of art. What I see, what I eat and what I wear in my daily life is the source of my inspiration.

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