- A Japanese artist created his sculptures with dead beetles
- The eerie yet captivating figures were controversial
- Some thought it needed too many dead animals, but his legacy is being rediscovered
A relatively unknown Japanese artist created very unusual works of art, using different varieties of beetles of all colors and sizes.
Yoneji Inamura started his odd project in the 1970s. He apparently spent around six years collecting 20,000 insects in the rural area of Japan where he lived back then. The collection he amassed included rhinoceros , longhorn, winged jewel and drone beetles, among others.
He was not a professional artist, but he decided his beetles were so beautiful that he would use them for artistic purposes. Inamura first assembled a sculture of a samurai, which had a wooden base and the insects set on top of it. It took him ten months to place 5,000.
There were mixed reactions surrounding his work. Some were amazed by the unnerving beauty of the insects, but others claimed that it was not ideal to kill thousands of animals in order to create art.
One of his most spectacular pieces is a five-foot sculpture of the senju kannon bosatsu (1000-armed bodhisattva), a Buddhist deity, which he started in 1972. He chose the theme on purpose as a tribute to the beetles. “If I shaped them into the form of a Buddhist statue it would also serve as a memorial to the insects,” he said.
He finally finished it in 1978, and it took 20,000 beetles to create the impressive figure.
The “Beetle Buddha” as it was called, was lost over the years, but rediscovered two years ago by a Tokyo art museum director. The work of art and its artist, now deceased, received much attention in the media, and can now be seen in a permanent display at the Town Hall of Itakura, the city where Inamura spent most of his life.