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Mayuka Yamamoto’s portraits of cute children hide their dark past

2 min read  · 17 Apr 2023


Mayuka Yamamoto, Sleeping White Bears, Courtesy of the artist and Corey Helford Gallery

Mayuka Yamamoto, a Japanese painter best known for cute, half-child, half-animal creatures, is among the top trending artists on HENI News.

Her HENI Score increased by a remarkable 170% recently, a reflection of the strong demand for her dreamlike paintings and her shows in New York and Los Angeles. The Japan-based artist's auction sales have totalled more than $15m over the past two years. To find out more about Mayuka Yamamoto, see her HENI Dashboard.

The artist's international reputation is growing beyond Asia. New York’s GR Gallery, which champions painters from Asia, presented the Yamamoto latest child-meets-animal paintings in the fall of 2022. She followed this with a solo show at Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles, also featuring her child portraits that recall Japanese anime cartoons, in spring 2023.

She explained that her latest paintings were partly inspired by a memorable visit to the catacombs of Palermo where she was struck by mummified bodies of children. “They are just standing there in dresses. The space was filled with the love of the mothers for their children,” she recalled.

Born in 1964, the Japan-based artist has a strong and established secondary market, especially in Asia. Her painting Flapping Penguin Boy (2021) sold for $97,100 at Sotheby's, Hong Kong, exceeding the high estimate . Another artwork, Little Unicorn (2020), also sold for $80,900 at Sotheby's, Hong Kong, this time for three times its high estimate. Phillips, Hong Kong, sold her Little Hippo Boy (2020) for $56,600 more than twice the high estimate.


Mayuka Yamamoto

Los Angeles