Takato Yamamoto’s paintings are rich, detailed illustrations revolving around darkness, eroticism, bondage, vampires, metamorphosis, love and death. Yet despite these nightmarish themes his work remains calm, serene, beautiful as if his subjects have been petrified, turned to stone, ageless in some weird fantasy horror novel.
Yamamoto’s style is known as Ukiyo-e Pop, a bringing together of the Ukiyo style (translated as pictures of the floating world) – a genre of Japanese woodblock prints and paintings produced between the 17th – 20th centuries featuring landscapes, history, theatre and pleasure quarters – and Japan’s own riff on Pop art which borrows heavily from advertising, graphic design and animation.
In Yamamoto’s case he began his working career as a commercial illustrator before becoming a visual artist and painter. This blurring of boundaries, between craft and style, has morphed into a unique aesthetic – which he calls ‘Heisei Estheticism’ – that makes his pictures more than merely commercial, more than an addendum to a fantasy novel. Rather his pictures manage to stand on their own as both a reflection of his own history as culture as well as that of B-movie cultural stereotypes that have had a global impact on all artforms over the last 50 years.