now on view in Miami

Hajime Sorayama: Desire Machines

“We are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism. In short, we are cyborgs.”
— Donna Haraway, The Cyborg Manifesto

In 1980, on the heels of the unprecedented success of the film Star Wars, Hajime Sorayama’s first robot pin-up was commissioned by a Japanese whiskey company requesting a sexy female character loosely based on C-3P0. Four decades and dozens of commissions, collaborations, books, exhibitions, and awards later, the Japanese artist and illustrator has produced an unparalleled body of erotic artwork, blurring the boundaries between realism and fantasy, flesh and metal, and the human and non-human.
In this first presentation of his work at the Museum of Sex, Sorayama’s playful embrace of duality is on full display. His figures are both provocatively hybrid and culturally promiscuous, incorporating references from East and West, past and present, and classical art and pop culture. His painting style is itself a study in contrasts, combining traditional Japanese brushwork with an original airbrush technique to achieve a super-realistic style for even the most otherworldly scenarios.

Sorayama’s open-ended approach to sexual fantasy is particularly relevant now—when we are all cyborgs, when the real and the virtual are almost indistinguishable, and when sex robots, AI companions, and virtual celebrities are more science fact than fiction. Hajime Sorayama: Desire Machines provides an opportunity to contemplate what sexual agency, objectification, privacy, exhibitionism, exclusivity, and intimacy mean in our current digital moment.

-Dr. Allison de Fren

Hajime Sorayama (b. 1947, Takamatsu, Ehime, Japan) is a legendary artist both within Japan and abroad. His extensive oeuvre centered on an ongoing pursuit of beauty of the human body and the machine has received wide international acclaim. Sorayama’s signature body of work entitled the “Sexy Robot” series (begun in 1978) solidified his world-wide reputation. In 1999, he won the Good Design Award (Ministry of Trade and Industry) and the Media Arts Festival Grand Prize (Agency of Cultural Affairs) for his work with Sony on the concept design for their entertainment robot ‘AIBO.’ In 2001, the first generation ‘AIBO’ was added to the permanent collections of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). In 2018, Sorayama collaborated with Dior Homme for its 2019 Pre-Fall collection in Tokyo that marked the Artistic Director of Menswear Kim Jones’ inaugural show with the house, presenting a 12-meter-high gigantic “Sexy Robot” which gained global recognition. In recent years, Sorayamaʼs works have been presented in exhibitions including Unorthodox at The Jewish Museum, New York (2015); Desire by Larry Gagosian and Jeffery Deitch at the Moore Building, Miami (2016); The Universe and Art at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2016) and Art Science Museum, Singapore (2017); and Cool Japan at the Tropen Museum, Amsterdam (2018) and Museum aan de Stroom, Antwerp (2019).

Emily Shoyer, Curator at Large
Laura Metzler, Exhibitions and Curatorial Manager
Kayla Janaé Smith, Curatorial Project Assistant

Allison de Fren, PhD, Associate Professor in the Media Arts & Culture Department at Occidental College

Eunice Yunjeong Lee

Cletis Chatterton

Winston Forgenie Jr.
Edgar Samudio

NANZUKA Contemporary Art Gallery