“Bear Boy”

“Bear Boy”

International artist Mayuka Yamamoto channels her love of children and childhood with playful tenderness utilizing highly skillful techniques. 

A leading contemporary artist in Japan, Yamamoto has been represented by the Corey Helford Gallery since its curator saw her show in Tokyo.

Yamamoto earned her master’s from Musashino Art University and studied in London through the Japanese Government Overseas Study Program for Artists. Her oil paintings capture guests’ emotional core of innocence and a desire for protection, represented by children secured in an animal suit. 

Their wistful or cheerful eyes are created with color and fine line symmetry across the canvas. Maintaining a finite color scheme yet varying strokes for textures engenders dimension artistically and an emotional yearning in the art of Yamamoto. 

The new show at Corey Helford Gallery, titled “Monochrome, Apples and Animals,” explore Yamamoto’s expressive children’s themes with shades in originally developed colors that produce the sense of volume in multifarious textures. 

“For the first time in this solo exhibition, I painted monochrome work,” Yamamoto said. “I wanted to make the painting reminiscent of a scene from an old movie or a nostalgic feeling that I had experienced before. Full color paintings are painted in a way that feels more flat visually, while monochrome paintings capture the subtlety of light.” 

On a personal level, the story of painting children began once Yamamoto had a child. 

“Before painting my current portraits, I use to draw paintings reminiscent of my mother, under the series titled ‘Mother.’ My work has changed since I had a child. 

“I think the main reason why I started drawing pictures of children is that I remembered my childhood through my child care experience. I think it reminds me of my feelings at that time, such as being scared and wanting to be protected by something warm and fluffy. After or while making those paintings, I feel that the memory from that time comes back to me through the paintings.”

Symbols behind paintings do not always happen at the beginning of an artistic process. For example, the metaphor in Yamamoto’s painting “Apple,” of a child holding a big red apple, came while painting; only then did she realize it represented the Japanese flag. 

And while painting a child holding a green apple, she discovered the apple symbolized earth. 

“My work has a lot of personal feelings, and for me, I have always thought that art is not about talking about big things but about expressing ‘something’ that derives from small personal things,” Yamamoto said.

“However, I think that in the current COVID pandemic, I’ve listened to horrific news on a daily basis, and these pictures express my desire to be protected.” 

The universality of Yamamoto’s art was seen in 2018 at the artist’s solo show in Tokyo by co-curator Caro Buermann from LA’s Carol Helford Gallery. 

“I was amazed to witness how Mayuka uses layers of soft tonal colors to create the ‘dreaminess’ of her portraits,” Buermann said. “Her portraits pull at your heart strings. It was undeniable that she is incredibly gifted, and we wanted to curate an exhibition for her, and her first exhibition with us was in 2019. We’ve been representing her since.”

The Corey Helford Gallery frequently favors styles of contemporary fantasy art. Its gallery director Sherri J. Trahan shares, the gallery genres are street art, pop surrealism and new figurative.  

The gallery represents international artists, but its focus is not country or theme.

“For us, one of the most interesting qualities to an artist’s work is whether or not they have a unique voice,” Trahan said.


“Monochrome, Apples and Animals” 

by Mayuka Yamamoto

WHEN: Various times through

Saturday, Oct. 30

WHERE: Corey Helford Gallery,

571 S. Anderson Street, Los Angeles

COST: Free admission

INFO: coreyhelfordgallery.com