Hikari Shimoda’s paintings of fantastical portraits of cute demonic children have all the elements you’d expect in a Japanese illustrators armoury, a manga cartoon aesthetic painted in bright cotton candy colours, that belies the grotesque visage of each child.
Originally an illustrator Shimoda turned to painting in 2008 and after the catastrophic earthquake and Tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 she began to paint children with mutated magical features that occurred as a result of the power plant explosions:
The work mainly takes up the problem which people live in modern society faces with a child motif, create a original world view mixing innocently cute and painfully eerie based on the way of expression peculiar to Japan.
These are not really demonic children rather they are innocents forever marked by the force of nature and the technological power of man, they are a reminder – albeit in an cartoonish way – that children always suffer most in the face of disaster, famine, war. In their faces lie the wonder of childhood set apart from their reality. No life is left. Only that doll-like spooky stare that is disarming, uneasy, possessed. Here’s what she has said about her work in relation to the earthquake:
A catastrophic earthquake hit Japan on March 11, 2011. Not only did this earthquake kill many people, but it has also called attention to a nuclear power plant explosion without precedence. This horrible tragedy occurred as a result of this society’s reliance on nuclear energy. Responsibility for this has thus been transferred from the adults to their children. Those who are born into this world are instantaneously burdened by an atrocity of whole-world magnitude. They are also required to save it. We must now face a new reality in order to live in this world. Through images of children wearing such costumes as those of Superman or Sailor Moon, I am expressing indirectly problems that the world now faces.