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Recreating Reality through Oil Painting

Connecting modernity, historical heritage, and visions of the future, the oil paintings of Japanese artist Hiroki Yamamoto convey the ethereal beauty of young women

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In the hyper-realistic portraits of Japanese artist Hiroki Yamamoto, young women arrest the eye with their astonishingly lifelike beauty. Some read or write in period dress, while others don elaborate mechanical headwear from some distant year in the future.

Delicate ballerinas pose at the barre, while kimono-clad maidens gaze through windows. So realistic is Yamamoto’s approach that, upon first glance, his paintings appear as soft-focus photographs, infusing each image with a dream-like quality.

In Yamamoto’s painting Repose, an elegant and graceful ballet dancer takes a momentary break during practice. Her posture remains poised and disciplined, displaying restraint and self-control. Her pristine tutu resembles the feathers of a swan, radiating purity and beauty in the soft, subtle light.

“As a creator, I apply a certain sense of complexity, juxtaposing images representing the contemporary, the past, and the future,” Yamamoto says. “I aim to convey the timeless existence of individuals. Though cultures, technologies, and trends differ from one era to another, people continue to live their daily lives in a similar manner—it’s a wonderful, beautiful notion.”

Born in Chiba, Japan, in 1982, Yamamoto discovered the joy of creating art at a tender age, when his kindergarten principal noticed the remarkable portrait he had drawn of his mother.

“I struggled to communicate with others from a young age, but when I was alone in the classroom drawing everyone would gather round to see my artwork,” Yamamoto says. “I realized that drawing could be a form of communication in place of words, and a way to engage with society.”

The young artist went on to study art at high school, before honing his skills in both oil painting and fine art oil painting at Musashino Art University. Since graduating in 2009, Yamamoto has shown his artwork across group and solo exhibitions and has received numerous awards for artistic excellence. His wide body of work includes striking pieces such as Aeolian Harp, In Noema’s Forest, and Refrain.

Yamamoto’s work Refrain. A young girl sits at a table writing, but she pauses in contemplation; an outside light illuminates the delicate lace on her collar and cuffs.

Within each of his paintings, Yamamoto is keen to impress the idea of distance upon the viewer—taking an unusual creative stance to do so.

“My paintings don’t show a one-on-one relationship between the model and the artist. It’s more like the perspective of a potted plant peeking into the room where the model is, or the viewpoint of a film director watching footage in an editing room. This approach represents my way of interacting with others,” Yamamoto says.

Order the Magnifissance print edition to read the full story.

This story is from Magnifissance Issue 121

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Inspired for a Beautiful Life

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