The Work of Takato Yamamoto

Japanese artist Takato Yamamoto’s spectacularly intricate “Heisei Esthiticism” style reflects a myriad of cultural influences from traditional Japanese art and European Renaissance themes to porn and consumerist pop-culture.  His eclectic points of reference result in decadent and rich compositions rather than confused or fractured work.  Yamamoto’s figures are idealised and have standardised features-characters in a fantastical world.  They are reminiscent of the work of victorian pornographer Franz von Bayros in their creative positioning and playful use of space within their scenarios.  As with a lot of Japanese art, there is a blatant sexual and often sadistic undertone that sees his subjects restrained, wounded, gagged and bound yet unblemished, posed and beautiful.  His recurring use of objects like skulls and skeletons, eyeballs and severed heads as ornaments in fabulously detailed and intricately opulent and patterned backgrounds reveal a fascination with sex and violence as beautiful aesthetic phenomena rather than topics of morality and he depicts these themes as subjects of sophisticated titillation.  These are not problematic, shallow cartoons of sinister pornography.  They are staggering and complex visual records of voyeuristic and psychological fascination drawn from an eclectic range of culturally significant sources.  Human suffering is not the point-beauty in pain/pleasure and child-like curiosity in the sinister and the grotesque is the focus of Yamamoto’s sumptuously detailed paintings.  Exquisitely illustrating themes of bondage, seductive darkness, metamorphosis and death, Yamamoto’s rich work adorns the covers of novels and magazines and nourishes a side of our minds that is often denied and repressed.

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