Aiko Robinson is a Christchurch born artist of Japanese and New Zealand heritage. She graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, NZ in 2014 and in 2020 she completed her masters at Tokyo University of the Arts on a Japanese Government funded scholarship (MEXT Scholarship).
Her imagery began as a response to shunga (‘spring pictures’), a form of pornography that flourished in Japan during the Edo period between the 17th and 19th centuries. Her prints and drawings evoke the idealised visions of the shunga artist, with an interest in how traditional works might compare to prevailing ideas regarding pornography. Aiko is passionate about drawing which she approaches with exquisite attention. In recent watercolours areas of fluid wash are combined with linear passages and the kimono has given way to underwear and bedsheets; items we might find in our own bedrooms. While still grounded in the Japanese tradition one can also see links to European artists such as Gustav Klimt, Aubrey Beardsley and David Hockney.
‘These works are about love, mutual pleasure and equality between sexual partners. They mean to challenge prevailing ideas regarding pornography in contemporary society. When sexual desires and fantasies are repressed it can be damaging to our intimate relating and can lead us to feel frustrated and perhaps even critical of others. I think that the desire to have sex is not only normal but something wonderful and to celebrate. To love, to pleasure and to treat your sexual partner with respect is beautiful. The curiosity to look at sexual images is human and healthy. I want to provide a platform for people to talk about sex in an open and positive environment.’
Aiko Robinson was selected as a finalist for both the Henrietta and Lola Anne Tunbridge Scholarship for watercolour painting 2014, and the Waikato Society of Arts Painting and Printmaking award 2015. Robinson was also the inaugural recipient of the Auckland Print Studio Prize for 2015. In 2017 she received the Monbukagakusho: MEXT scholarship, from the Government of Japan to enable foreign students to study at Japanese Universities. She has exhibited in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan.