Takato Yamamoto is a rather enigmatic contemporary Japanese artist who is well-known for his dark sensual illustrations, in a style that he himself titled “Heisei Aestheticism” (after the Heisei imperial period of Japan – which ran until April 2019). He was born in the Akita prefecture in 1960 and graduated from the painting department of the Tokyo Zokei University. His style is highly influenced by Ukiyo-e, the popular art of woodblock prints and illustrations, while also depicting themes of Ero Guro (erotic gore). Yamamoto’s art is also described as decadent, likely due to his choice to depict themes related to BDSM, torture, vampirism and disembowelment in an indiscernible mix of horror, erotism and fantasy.
Compared to other fucked up Japanese art like that of Suehiro Maruo’s or Junji Ito’s, Yamamoto’s art does not reach high levels of grotesque, being instead often non-violent, with the depiction of characters in states of relative tranquility and dream-like states with dark undertones. Other works are more sexually explicit, depicting topics of bondage, cunnilingus, and light homoerotism. Few of his illustrations reach levels of pornography that resemble the Shunga movement.
Takato Yamamoto’s artwork can be easily recognised by his choice of characters: usually no more than one or two people, depicted in sensual poses, sometimes naked, and surrounded by themes of nature – often plants or flowers, rarely animals. Ladies wearing kimonos or other typical Japanese attire being undressed by skeleton figures or holding a skull in their hand appear in more than one of his works, as do scenes of lovers embracing each other in unnatural poses, reminiscing of Gustav Klimt’s kiss.
You can find all of by Takato Yamamoto’s books on his official store on Amazon, including his three main art collections, Coffin of a Chimera, Rib of a Hermaphrodite and Divertimento for a Martyr.