Maruo Suehiro (b. 1956)
Japan, 2008
Painting, acrylic on paper
Copyright: Maruo Suehiro / Publisher: Seirinkogeisha
Purchase, 2014

The influence of ukiyo-e upon Maruo is conveyed by the characters in the upper left corner of this painting, which originate from the triptych ‘The Earth Spider Conjures up Demons at the Mansion of Minamoto no Raikō,’ (Minamoto no Yorimitsu-kō no yakata ni tsuchigumo yōkai wo nasu no zu, 1843) by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861). Some scholars have argued that Kuniyoshi’s print was a veiled criticism of the Tenpō Reforms of 1842–47, which banned the publication of any image or text that the Tokugawa shogunate deemed a threat to public morality. Ironically, Maruo’s own work has been similarly subject to censorship: the 1992 film Underground Projected Drama: Camellia Girl (Chika Gentō Gekiga: Shōjo Tsubaki ), an adaptation of Maruo’s 1984 manga The Camellia Girl (Shōjo Tsubaki ), was banned from theaters in Japan, and copies of the film were seized by the police.