Olivia Putyer (BA, MSc Japanese Society and Culture)

Thesis title: Representations of Intimacy in Japanese Contemporary Visual Art

Japanese Studies

Year of study: 2

  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

Contact details

PhD supervisor:



School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures
50 George Square, 4th floor, PhD Office

Post code


After completing a BA in English Language and Literature - Japanese Language and Literature at the "Babeș-Bolyai" University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania in 2013, Olivia  did some faffing about and then moved to Scotland in 2014. She began her part-time MSc in Japanese Society and Culture in 2016 and moved on to do a PhD in Japanese Studies in 2018. 

2019 brought opportunities to marry academic ambitions to my professional activities and she is currently working on a PhD thesis on the topic of visual representation of sexuality in Japanese arts since the Edo period (by looking at erotic woodblock paintings dating all the way back to the 17th century)all the way through to contemporary art and connecting with like-minded academics to make public engagement events on this topic available locally and (hopefully) nationally. In parallel with this, she has liaised with colleagues and partners within the Edinburgh College of Art, Tokyo University of the Arts and the University of Edinburgh's School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures to bring Venus Bounds, an exhibition on contemporary Japanese erotic art initially organised by Tokyo University of the Arts, to Edinburgh in November 2019. Olivia hopes this to be the first in many Japanese art-related events her partners and she can bring to Edinburgh in order to broaden the cultural experiences available to local audiences with an interest in Japanese art, art in general and sexuality and intimacy represented in art. 

She has recently completed a Sotheby's Institute of Art online course on the Dynamics of the Art Market, with a view to pursuing further training in gallery management curation, consultancy and whatever else the art industry may find handy. She openly admits she's not sure what else she's good at. 

She also enjoys fixing office furniture.

Current research interests

Representations of intimacy in Japanese contemporary visual art.

Past research interests

Serialised television narratives, TV series and their development, Japanese TV series and Japanese televisual content.

Project activity

Venus Bound - Japanese Contemporary Art Exhibition

Held in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh’s School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures and the Edinburgh College of Art, Venus Bound is an exhibition which explores contemporary sexuality and sensuality through the works of sixteen Japanese artists. This diverse collection of images and installations captures and recasts scenes of sexual fantasy or play. Each work is tied, however loosely or indelicately, to the theme of shunga – a tradition of erotic prints that flourished in early modern Japan (1600-1868). At times bold and explicit, at others submissive and restrained, the artists of Venus Bound straddle worlds as they fight, fiddle and flirt with convention. Some tease from art historical tropes a striking diversity of sensuous and subversive expressions. Others interrogate taboos with a playful irreverence, a devilish sense of humour and glee. Sincere in its insolence and mischief, Venus Bound brings around thirty works into conversation with each other in a recovery, celebration and animation of sexual expression and intimacy in art.

Current project grants

The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Studentship
The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Grant
British Association for Japanese Studies Grant

Past project grants

The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Studentship