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Japanese femdom artist Namio Harukawa has passed away

He was famed for depicting voluptuous women sitting on the faces of subservient men

Namio Harukawa, a Japanese fetish artist best known for depicting voluptuous women dominating subservient men, has passed away. The news was first reported by friend and video game producer, Yuko Kitagaw, in a blog post on Friday 24 April and it is believed the cause of death is cancer.

Born in 1947 in Osaka, Japan, Harukawa was lauded for his contribution to fetish art, which he began to create in the 1960s and 70s. In the 00s, Harukawa finally became recognised through co-signs from Madonna (who shared his work on Instagram), as well as Japanese avant-garde figures such as Shūji Terayama and Onoroku Dan.

He cut his creative teeth at the Japanese pulp mag, Kitan Club, which specialised in sadomasochistic content. Although his birth name is unknown, it is said that the artist adopted his moniker Namio Harukawa by merging ‘Naomi’ – a novel by Japanese novelist Tanizaki Jun'ichirō – a Japanese actress’s name, Masumi Harukawa. 

While he is notorious for his illustrations of face-sitting, Harukawa didn’t shy away from other sex acts, such as cunnilingus, anilingus, coprophilia, and urolagnia. His women are nonchalant, smoking a cigarette, sipping a cocktail, or reading a book. They are always dressed (or at least half-dressed) glamorously, while the men appear nude or in their underwear, emasculated, and used as human furniture.

Unfortunately, little is known about the enigmatic artist’s personal life. In fact, even his age is debated, and he was believed to have been either 72 or 73-years-old at the time of his death. Despite this, there are three books which have been published celebrating his work over the past 11 years, with the last released in 2019.

Get to know nine other BDSM illustrators here