FOLLOW US ON: follow us in feedly
GET THE NEWSLETTER
CONTACT US
Death is My Lover: The Decadent Erotic Art of Takato Yamamoto (NSFW)

01yamat.jpg
 
Some artists keep their lives hidden so the focus remains solely on their work.

Takato Yamamoto appears to be such an artist.

Outside of Japan, there is little known about Takato Yamamoto other than he is a Japanese artist who produces beautiful, dark, exquisite paintings of sex and death. Type his name into any search engine and up will pop the words “beautiful,” “dark,” “exquisite,” “sex,” and” death.” 

There is also the standard paragraph biography:

Takato Yamamoto was born in Akita Prefecture (Japan) in 1960. After graduating from the painting department of the Tokyo Zokei University, he experimented with the Ukiyo-e Pop style. He further refined and developed that style to create his “Heisei estheticism” style. His first exhibition was held in Tokyo, in 1998.

Yamamoto tags his work “Heisei estheticism.” But this doesn’t really mean much. It’s just a nominal title for something created during the Heisei period. The Heisei period started on January 8th, 1989, with the death of Emperor Hirohito and the ascension of his son Emperor Akihito. It’s little more than a descriptive time frame like saying Shakespeare’s work is Elizabethan drama. The “estheticism” bit references the Aesthetic Movement, which believed in “art for art’s sake” with an emphasis on “the visual and sensual qualities of art and design over practical, moral or narrative considerations.”

The Heisei period is supposedly about the promotion of peace. Yamamoto’s response to this is not only simply aesthetic but also decadent as in the Decadent art movement of the late 19th-century. The French author and pioneer of the Decadent movement, Charles Baudelaire described “decadence” as a preference for what is beautiful and exotic, a literal surrendering to the fantastical. This could be a description of Yamamoto’s work. A closer look reveals there are also some other influences—some Art Nouveau and more than a hint of the Symbolists.

Let’s start with Yamamoto’s mix of sex and fantastical horror which suggest the Decadent paintings of Félicien Rops. The pig motif recalls Rops’ Pornokratès. While his imagery of death contained within the embrace of love recalls Rops obsession with women as potential destroyers—an obsession born out of his fear of syphilis. Add in some other Decadent themes like vampirism, torture, disembowelment, the old favorite of young girls in bondage, and some delicate homoeroticism featuring some beautiful whey-faced androgynous boys, then we have the full checklist.

Then there is Yamamoto’s intricate and exquisite style which recalls the illustrative work of Art Nouveau artists Aubrey Beardsley and Harry Clarke.

All of these clues reveal a highly cultured and intelligent artist creating his own distinctive and, let’s be frank, deeply personal style through the prism of past artistic movements. It’s post-modernist pick ‘n’ mix. Part graphic novel, part Decadent fantasy, part Heisei esthetic, wholly Tamako Yamamoto.
 
02yamak1.jpg
 
03yamak.jpg
 
See more of Yamaoto’s work, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
05.25.2017
12:21 pm
|
Blasphemy, Sex, Satanism and Sadism: The diabolic erotic art of Félicien Rops (NSFW)

005RopsPornokratès.jpg
‘Pornokratès’ (1896).
 
There are few nineteenth century artists as controversial or as profoundly shocking as Félicien Rops. Even more than a century after his death, his “blasphemous erotica” can still cause great offense in a world of safe spaces and trigger warnings.

Rops was born in Namur, Belgium in 1833, the son of a wealthy cotton dealer. He was home schooled by a private tutor before attending Jesuit college where he excelled at art. However, he hated the intense Catholic education and quit college at sixteen. He then went onto finish his education at Royal Athenaeum. His talent for art flourished and he achieved some early success as a caricaturist for the student magazine Le Crocodile and local magazines. But it was as a lithographer and etcher that he proved his technical brilliance and unparalleled artistic talent. He co-founded with Charles De Coste the satirical magazine L’Uylenspiegel (1856-1863). They mercilessly attacked Church and State, the bourgeoisie and artistic pretensions. The magazine made both men (in)famous—Rops was even challenged to a duel after one particular provocative attack.

He married, had two children (one dying in childhood), separated from his wife and moved to Paris in 1862. His arrival in the City of Lights changed Rops dramatically—he was like a wide-eyed yokel driven to excess by the thrill of the metropolis. He began to draw and paint with a fevered intensity the world he inhabited. He exhibited some of his work back in his hometown of Namur in 1865—in particular a portrait of a female absinthe drinker (La Buveuse d’Absinthe) which so outraged critics and civic figures that he was denounced by an official rebuke for prostituting his pencil in “the reproduction of scenes imprinted with a repellent realism.” The response pleased Rops—though he described it as akin to being spat upon—as it meant he had found his right subject matter: the dark and neglected and unacknowledged underworld of everyday life. This led Rops to co-found the Société Libre des Beaux-Arts—a group set up to promote “realism” in art in 1868.

Another key event was his meeting with the writer Baudelaire, whose work confirmed many of Rops’ personal beliefs. He illustrated Baudelaire’s banned volume of poetry Les Fleurs du Mal and became one of the resident artists of the Decadent Movement—though he also had a place in the Symbolist camp.

The Decadent Movement was a loose collection of artists and writers who came to prominence in the last two decades—or fin de siècle—of the 1800s. The term Decadent was originally intended to be disparaging—but Baudelaire and Rops considered it a suitable description of their lifestyle and work. The Decadents were in revolt against the constrictive and petite bourgeoise morality of the day. But even this doesn’t quite tell the complete truth. Though Rops had rejected much of his Catholic upbringing—he had some lingering religious beliefs. He was a Freemason—and some of his work was highly anti-Catholic. Take a look at his pornographic re-imagining of the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa being “penetrated” by the lance of the seraphim. He had a fear of women but was for a time happily married and then lived in a menage a trois with two sisters. He was intelligent and rational but was also superstitiously obsessed with the occult—in particular the power of the Devil. He railed gainst the petite bourgeoisie and against fame but harbored a desire for success—on his own terms.

The novelist Péladan said of Rops in La Plume (1896):

Three hundred subtle minds admire and love him, and this approbation of thinkers is all that matters to this master; if a man of the middle classes, one of those for whom popular works are written and who actually read them, should happen to show a liking for one of his works, he would immediately destroy it.  As a patrician of art, he wishes for no other judges than but his peers, and not out of pride.  The best token of his modesty is the fact that he is so little known and that is how he wants it, because he knows that Art is a druidic cult which receives into its ranks all minds that rise high enough.

While the author JK Huysmans described Rops as:

...not confined himself, like his predecessors, to rendering the attitudes of bodies swayed by passion, but has elicited from flesh on fire the sorrows of fever-stricken souls, and the joys of warped minds; he has painted demonic rapture as other have painted mystical yearnings. Rops has not confined himself, like his predecessors, to rendering the attitudes of bodies swayed by passion, but has elicited from flesh on fir the sorrows of fever-stricken souls, and the joys of warped minds; he has painted demonic rapture as other have painted mystical yearnings.

Rops described his work as “structured mainly around the themes of love, suffering and death, with the central unifying theme of the woman, la femme fatale in the full meaning of the word.” According to Rops the la femme fatale is:

Satan’s accomplice, [a woman who] becomes the supreme attraction which provokes the most extreme vices and torments in Man, a mere puppet.

This image is repeated throughout Rops work—and even when man attempts to repress his desire—as in his painting The Temptation of Saint Anthony—where (as Sigmund Freud notes) he has “placed Sin in the place of the Savior on the cross”

He seems to have known that when what has been repressed returns, it merges as the repressing force itself.

Rops’ work has been described as blasphemous, sadistic, sexist, misogynistic, pornographic, debased and even cruel—but that strikes me as responding to the effect or the surface rather than the substance of his work—which is far more complex and far more telling of Rops’ own fears and anxieties.
 
000ropsLatentationSaintAntoine.jpg
‘La tentation de Saint Antoine’ (‘The Temptation of Saint Anthony’) (1878).
 
002malefactorum.jpg
‘L’Incantation’ (‘The Incantation’) (1878).
 
More of sex, sadism and satanism, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
11.29.2016
10:54 am
|
HÄXAN: Satan and the women who love him


Above, Dean Karr’s “Prague Twins”
 
Ack! I missed out on posting about the opening of this incredible looking art show currently hanging in the Windy City, but it’s still up for a few more days should you live or find yourself in Chicago this week:

Century Guild invites you to investigate the dark and sensual wilderness of two of history’s most vilified figures: THE WITCH and her dark master, SATAN.  “Grand Guignol II: HÄXAN – Satan + The Women who love Him” explores not only turn-of-the-century artists’ fascination with these embodiments of evil, but also brings together a roster of acclaimed contemporary artists who’ve rendered their dark visions for a one night only special exhibition.  This event marks the one-year anniversary of Century Guild’s showroom, which opened its doors in Chicago’s industrial Kinzie District last October for the beyond capacity show, “Grand Guignol: An Exhibition Celebrating the Legendary Parisian Theater of Terror.”

Artworks include original historical posters from the French theater of terror Le Théâtre du Grand Guignol, antique works on paper by Gustav Klimt and Alphonse Mucha, a selection of 19th century Devil imagery, and modern contributions from contemporary painters Dave McKean (cover illustrator of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman), Michael Hussar, Gail Potocki, and Chris Mars; photographers Dean Karr (video director for Marilyn Manson), Austin Young, and Steve Diet Goedde; Italian poster art collective Malleus, and more.

You can email Century Guild curator Thomas Negovan for a private appointment to see “Grand Guignol II: HÄXAN – Satan + The Women who love Him”

Below, Dangerous Minds pal Austin Young’s fab portrait of infernal opera diva, Diamanda Galas:
 

 
“Unkept and Whispered,” a triptych by the extremely talented Gail Potocki, below:
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
|
11.02.2011
01:09 pm
|