Mari Shimizu’s Gorgeous, Haunting Dolls Are Absolutely Captivating

Fantasy doll maker Mari Shimizu hails from Amakusa, Kumamoto Japan where after graduating from Tama Art University, she dedicated herself to creating and photographing her intricate ball-joint dolls. Shimizu is deeply inspired by the Surrealist movement, especially Nazi-hating Dadaist, photographer Hans Bellmer whose scandalous work often incorporated dolls. Here are a few words from Bellmer on his artistic approach that appear to directly align to Shimizu’s ethos: ‘The body resembles a sentence that seems to invite us to dismantle it into its component letters, so that its true meaning may be revealed ever anew through an endless stream of anagrams’.

Shimizu carves openings in her dead-eyed dolls in order to provide the viewer insight into the inner-workings of her inanimate creations. Themes that run through her work include mythology, religion, death and nature in which rabbits are common themes. Rabbits are symbolic for a myriad of reasons and perhaps as it pertains to Shimizu’s work is how the rabbit is regarded as an ‘Earth’ symbol -as it is the earthly aspect of its existence that allows the animal to retain its composure in the midst of chaos. Rabbits are also categorized as being ‘tricksters’ in various mythological tales and folklore from around the world including Japan. Shimizu’s utilization of the dolls as unconventional artistic vehicles is about as tricky as it gets.

Mari Shimizus gorgeous, haunting dolls are absolutely captivating

Mari Shimizus gorgeous, haunting dolls are absolutely captivating

Mari Shimizus gorgeous, haunting dolls are absolutely captivating

Mari Shimizus gorgeous, haunting dolls are absolutely captivating

Mari Shimizus gorgeous, haunting dolls are absolutely captivating

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