Jun Hasegawa was born in Mie, Japan and studied at Wimbledon School of Art and Goldsmith’s College.
In an interview with Stephen Hepworth for the British Council exhibition Tailsliding in 2001, Hasegawa described her work:
"I never thought I was going to be a painter, I started by studying graphics. I tried so many different things. The ‘cut out’ was the end of that process but also the beginning. The cut out was something interesting. It has so many different things; the three dimensionality combined with the flat photographic element. The illusion the figure has... it’s not painting a portrait or making a sculpture, but something in-between. There’s a strangeness. It comes from installation, working in a space, it’s a different world, for example as with a computer game, psychologically as well as spatially. I am not interested in making up characters though, it is more the desire that I want to be in a space. I think lots of people are obsessed by beauty. Lots of artists here want to make something ugly. Their ugliness can be beautiful, but I am doing the complete opposite, my background is different. With the cut outs, they bring their world into our world. Very beautiful people with very beautiful lives, and we aspire to them. But they are not really real in our world. They are always slightly apart, perhaps on a parallel plain.
I tried using Asian models, but it didn’t work for me, they looked too young. I don’t create figures, I trace them, so when I trace lines it makes people look much younger. The Asian girls looked ten years old. I don’t play computer games or read comics I just like drawing. When I trace lines they become something else, I like the sensation of tracing lines. I see the tracing paper and pencil drawing then I imagine how I can use this image to do my work. My source is from magazines. I am using less fashion magazines as they have become all about ‘the mood’. I take images of models and famous people, but I have also photographed friends. Now I use girls from men’s magazines like Loaded and FHM. That kind of magazine has five pages of bikini girls. Most of them are looking towards the camera, which works very well. When I trace it onto canvas the girl is looking towards us with direct eye contact. You get that with classical portraiture where the eyes follow you around the room. There is a room at the National Gallery where the portraits follow you as you move around. This means they have a kind of power about them that works very well. For me, this power is very strong.
As an artist you can’t do anything you like, you have to know what works best, and what you are good at. If I forget all of this I could start making oil paintings, or sculptures or video, I have to know what I am good at and I realise I am good at drawing girls, but not the boys. The line makes them softer, which makes them girlie boys. They are too pretty, not masculine enough. Even when I painted soldiers, an extreme form of aggressive masculinity, they looked too soft, even though I did choose good-looking ones. Because of the technique - the line, the flat colour - they always become pretty. Even if they are ugly to start with, even if they have broken noses, they become photogenic through the process, which is perhaps why they are not satisfying as depictions of men. I will never be a man, so perhaps I don’t know how to treat them. I am making ideals.
When I started making paintings as opposed to cut outs, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, that’s why I tried to paint everyday things. There is a series of them: a girl lying on the couch or one on a rug having a picnic, a girl speaking on the phone. They are mundane yet innocent. Even the painting of the suicide is still very beautiful, innocence in death, like in the film The Virgin Suicides, a tragic innocent beauty - Pre-Raphaelite. Then I found a way to use more figures and see a relationship between the figures and the backgrounds. I started to do collage - that works very well. The figures were no longer in isolation. I always look at the history of painting and learn how things were made. Renaissance paintings are very flat, with a very graphic image. They are a collage, but they look cartoony as well. They use lots of figures and a flat outline. They have a mythology or a story behind them, but I don’t take that because I don’t understand that, I just see the image. I think about how they are composed in relation to each other and how they use the colours. I learn a lot from those and then I think of modern painting, and also album cover design and typography.
These old paintings don’t have narratives or stories for us, because we don’t understand the stories. They are lost to us, unless you read the explanation on the wall next to them. So we just see the image. In the same way with my paintings you don’t know the story, but you try to understand what might be happening. These figures are quite anonymous. I don’t know who these people are. I don’t really like the specific identities. The possibilities emerge in the collages. There is also symbolism, the trees are always a place of mystery and menace. I’d like to make a painting ‘singing songs’. That’s how I judge. I ask myself; is that painting singing songs ? If it is, then the painting works. It makes it more desirable. You want to take it home."
Tailsliding, The British Council, London 2001