Hf：Could you tell us more about yourself?
H：My name is Harumi Hironaka, I’m a 30 year old Peruvian-Japanese painter and illustrator currently living and working in Sao Paulo. I lived my teenage years in Japan, where I was influenced by Anime and Manga. Actually, I wanted to become a manga artist, but ended up studying languages. Even though I’ve always enjoyed drawing I got into painting not so long ago as a means of therapy, to help me deal with my emotions and crisis.
Hf：How would you describe your work? What’s your creative process like?
H：My work is all about expressing myself, I translate my anger, my pain, my dissatisfaction and my fantasies into color. I don’t think people should take it too seriously. I’m pretty sure this will change eventually, but, for the time being, I just go with my gut.
H：I start off with a basic idea (emotion) and then build up around it. I would usually take a picture of someone (my sister for example) or ask an IG follower to take a selfie. Recently I have started to use myself as reference, but I really don’t like it that much. Then I draw a rough sketch with all the elements, and once I’m good with it I transfer it onto watercolour paper and start painting.
Hf：I’m really loving those badass female characters in your work! Is rebelliousness an important aspect of your life? Why are you often drawn to rebellious subjects, especially rebellious women?
H：Yes, rebelliousness is crucial. I’m a rebel but not without a cause. Society wants us women unthreatening, positive and communal and I feel like challenging those imposed patterns. We’ve been silenced and reduced for so long and now that things are changing for us, we have to speak up, to get loud and support each other. I could probably paint decorative girls with vacant expressions, surrounded by flowers and butterflies. They probably would look nice on a family home wall; but that’s not me. I go with my gut and it tells me to be bold.
Hf: Since your work is what some would call ‘racy’ or ‘explicit’, have you encountered any sort of censorship? How do you respond to this external challenge?
H：Yes, my work gets reported and taken down often. They also freeze my Facebook account as a form of punishment. Last time it happened was because of a female nipple, so what I did was change it a little bit… I digitally covered it with a male nipple and posted it again. In my opinion, there was nothing sexual or obscene about it.