The world can be a cruel place.
But in it, Japanese artist Kazuhiro Hori sees young girls as the quintessential embodiment of innocence and purity. Channeling this outlook, his illustrations depict nightmarish worlds populated by rosy-cheeked schoolgirls in distress. The cake frosting has turned into a strong adhesive, gluing the girls in place like mouse traps; pools of strawberry jam puddle up underneath them, vibrant like freshly spilled blood; and possessed dolls claw at them, eyes gleaming with malicious intent. Hori’s illustrations, while steeped in a sense of horror, beckons viewers to look on in disbelief and ask, “What exactly is happening to these girls?”
“I work in an art school filled with 18- to 20-year-old girls,” Hori explains. “So from my perspective as a male, it looks like these girls live in a colorful, carefree world of cuteness and fun. They’re surrounded by their favorite food, music, manga, and friends. But the truth is, they experience a lot of worry and anxiety. A vague sense of unease towards the future awaits them. And unfortunately, their dream world is going to be replaced by the cruelness of real-life society.”
“I don’t think the real world is only filled with bad things,” he clarifies. “I’m just tapping into my personal feelings of different situations and observations, and then turning them into drawings.”
Growing up, many young girls will eventually step into a world inconsistent with how they might’ve imagined it in their youth, a place that’s perhaps not as bright or kind as they originally envisioned. Hori’s work—while cynical and distrustful—is simply his way of bidding farewell to the innocence of youth, a sendoff for the girls who sooner or later will be confronted with the unsympathetic realities of life.