Japan artist turns heads with human canvases

Japan artist turns heads with human canvases
INTENSE REALISM: Tokyo-born Cho adding the finishing touches to a painting on the head of Tanaka on Saturday, as part of Tokyo Designers Week. The 21-year-old's ultimate ambition is to paint an entire naked body.

TOKYO - A talkshow host peering out of a man's stomach and a piece of skin peeling away from a hand to unveil tangerine segments beneath - these are two of the impossible visions created by a Japanese body artist.

Hikaru Cho's brushes add a spare pair of eyes to one model and an ear to the back of someone else's hand. She works on art that she says is short-lived, but intended to reveal a new way to look at the human form.

"As soon as I finish, the work starts deteriorating as it begins to dry," said Tokyo-born Cho, as she painted a hatch on a shaved head that reveals iron bars behind which a tortured figure languishes, desperate to escape.

The intense realism of the painting, part of Tokyo Designers Week, would last only hours, destined to be washed off as soon as the canvas - 20-year-old Ryonosuke Tanaka - took a shower.

Cho, 21, was born to Chinese parents in Japan and burst onto Tokyo's art scene when she entered the city's Musashino Art University in 2012.

"I think of an illusion in three dimensions," she said. "I take in an element of trickery to make things appear hollowed out or to seem as if something is emerging."

The head painting - as much a performance as a picture - shows someone literally "imprisoned by his thoughts", she said.

"This is something totally impossible in real life. I want viewers of my art to question what they usually think is normal," she said.

Her works, which can take up to seven hours each, include one with a huge zipper on a woman's back that is coming open to show the inner workings.

Cho's ultimate ambition is to paint an entire naked body.

"Seventy per cent of a human body is made of water, they say. I want to make that visible," she said.

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