Eros and Thanatos in the Arts of Asia

Christine Vial Kayser's picture
Call for Publications
February 18, 2021 to April 30, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Asian History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, East Asian History / Studies

Eros and Thanatos in the Arts of Asia

Call for papers for the journal Revue Art Asie Sorbonne (Creops, Sorbonne University)


If the Eros/ Thanatos couple is central in Western arts, it is also central in Asian arts, be it popular images, religious icons, classical, traditional or contemporary representations. In India, eroticism is presented in Tantrism as the metaphor par excellence of spiritual experience. Images of eroticism can be linked to terrifying or funereal figures, in a perspective that aims to go beyond the opposition between pleasure and fear. Love and death are linked in classical China and Japan through the characters of foxes or ghosts.


In China, Shanghai art and cartoon magazines of the 1930s saw the birth of a new iconography, accompanied by a growing taste for entertainment and pleasure: it may appear as the sign of a quest for progress and modernity in the Western style in a country eager to regenerate the national culture, but also as embodying the dangers of a triumphant hedonism in the guise of unscrupulous femmes fatales. It sometimes evokes a sense of loss - loss of social cohesion, loss of masculinity - which recalls the tensions inherent in Western art concerning female eroticism. The modern woman, seductive and inclined to erotic pleasure, appears to carry a talismanic power that photography captures, which it feeds on, while making it inoperative. Such a dynamic resurfaces since the 2000s, sometimes mixed with a feminist vision which sends back to the spectator the mirror of its ambiguities. In Japan, after the economic crisis of the 1990s, contemporary artists have hijacked the techniques of traditional painting (nihonga) to put them at the service of an extreme and macabre eroticism, already practiced in the 1920s with some success.


For this thematic issue of the Journal Revue Art Asie Sorbonne, we are looking for contributions on the theme in Asian visual arts of all eras, of approximately 30,000 signs (5000 words), accompanied by copyright-free illustrations.




Revue Art Asie Sorbonne (formerly Revue Asie) is a peer-reviewed publication by Creops, department of Oriental Art History of Paris-Sorbonne University


Contact Info: 

Please send your proposals including an abstract in French and English followed by keywords and a short bio-bibliography, before April 30th. The answer will be given by May 30th at the latest. Articles are expected by September 15 at the latest. Proposals should be sent to Christine Vial-Kayser (, Mary Picone ( and Edith Parlier-Renault (