Shintaro Kago is one of the few Japanese fucked up artists who gained a large amount of following in the western world. Born in Tokyo in 1969, he’s a contemporary mangaka and pioneer of the guro (gore) genre who reached somewhat of a cult following globally despite never receiving formal education in the arts. What made him so popular is his unique style which distorts realities, deforms the human body, turns the ordinary into surreal and vice versa. Observing his work is a bit like looking at children’s drawings, filled with exaggerations, mixing of themes and genres, imaginative experimentations with a dark twist that always culminate in the bizarre or the grotesque, but almost in a humorous way.
Compared to other fucked up Japanese artists like Junji Ito and Suehiro Maruo, Shintaro Kago is less focused on conveying horror and more on delivering a feeling of estrangement through the sheer absurdity of his subjects. His art style is commonly defined as “fashionable paranoia”.
Kago’s subjects are almost always characters whose body is dissected or distorted, sometimes merged with that of animals or inanimate objects (or both). In some of his work, the full-on body horror is substitute for something on a minor scale, more subtle but still unsettling, which exploits the phenomenon of the uncanny valley (the condition for which humans feel a sense of unease when they recognise small non-human traits in otherwise nearly perfectly human-like figures, such as dolls or robots). One perfect example of this is Kago’s Oral Cavity Infectious Syndrome.
The fucked up art of Shintaro Kago reached international shores also thanks to his contributions to the popular VICE magazine, for which he illustrated both a cover and numerous articles under the title “Kagomaniacs”. In addition to that, the artist also illustrated the cover art for electronic musician Flying Lotus‘s album You’re Dead! in 2014.