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Minako Yamano is a Japanese artist based in Tokyo.



BA, Japanese Traditional Painting, Musashino Art University, Tokyo

MFA, Painting, Pratt Institute, New York


Exhibitions and Awards

Liquitex Biennale, New Artist Award

Thesis Excellence Award, Musashino Art University, Tokyo

Liquitex Biennale

Japanese Cultural Ministry three year scholarship for art study abroad 

Soho Biennale, New York (piece sold)

Master's Thesis Exhibition, Pratt Institute

The Art of Bookmaking exhibition, PRINT STUDIO SOUTH

It's About Excellence craft show, second prize

It's About Excellence craft show, first prize

Projekt 30 ( online exhibition

LIBRARY show, Tokyo, 2014

Art Expo Malaysia, Malaysia, September 2014

Tokyo Designers Week Handmade Market, October 2014

Liquitex Art Prize, Tokyo, November 2014

Tiny Bits show, Orange County Creative gallery (USA), Feb. 2015

”Blue” show (, March, 2015

LIBRARY show, March 2015, Kyoto and Tokyo

Berlin Move show, April to May 2015 (piece sold)

Ouchi gallery, New York, August 2015

"Art Wave exhibition vol.36", the RECTO VERSO GALLERY, Tokyo, October 2015.
"Grain of Rice (Un Seul Grain de Riz)" show at the Galerie Métanoïa, Paris



”Cool Japan:creators file, vol.23" 2015


Blog : Click here

Artist Statement 


Trained in the Japanese traditional painting known as “Nihonga”, which uses Sumi ink, brushwork and natural mineral pigments, the goal of my painting endeavor is twofold: to regain the dynamics, boldness, and humor of this style as seen in the works of Japanese grand masters such as Hokusai Katsushika or Jakuchu Ito; and to pioneer a new field by integrating modern motifs and techniques such as computer circuit boards, advertisement photos, and silkscreen printing.


Currently I have two styles: LIFE series and MYTH series.

LIFE series is a microcosmic/macrocosmic abstract series in which motifs are taken from various artificial and natural objects such as computer circuit boards, microscopic photos, reptile skins, or purely imaginary images.


The first work in this series, “LIFE” (awarded Thesis Excellence Award, Musashino Art University), was done as a Byobu, the Japanese folding screen style, which imparts to it the presence of a semi-three-dimensional object rather than a flat painting. Silver leaf pasted on rice paper is oxidized to achieve an iridescent color. This work carries the image of a computer circuit board enlarged to 4.8 x 7.2 feet. This greenish, waterish piece can itself be seen as a giant organism — the complex lines connecting dots can be seen as a microorganism, an aerial photo of cities and highways, or charts representing various relationships. The English word “LIFE” was chosen as the title to embrace the multidimensional aspects this piece represents: life as a being or life form, life as a condition of existence, life as an organization of energy.


The works in this series have been described as "the coexistence of paradise and hell." The theme of the series has been the uniting of opposites: pain and joy, old and new, or microcosmic and macrocosmic. In other words, it is to capture “life”. My intention is for the viewer to simultaneously feel movement and calmness, sound and silence, and color and darkness.


My other style is the MYTH series. The first work in this style, “Map of Modern Desire” (awarded New Artist award in the Liquitex Biennale) is a modern Mandala (Buddhist visual schema of the enlightened mind). The collage is made with advertising photos of everyday commodities such as groceries, cars, and underwear, composed for purely visual effect, regardless of their purpose or meaning. It is then traced and painted with Sumi ink brushwork and dye to give it a decayed, antique look. The concept is a postmodern combination of old and new; Japanese ancient painting technique used to portray commercial items typical of our modern period. The theme is “the impermanence of all things”, the Buddhism dogma according to which everything we see now will become old, decayed and forgotten. All that prospers must decline and fall. I visualizes a panoramic view of Capitalist life imbued with irony in which everything is mass produced and mass consumed and forgotten instantly. The things we see and use every day, the things we currently talk about and praise… how will they look a thousand years later?

Ancient and Modern Techniques Coming Together 
Gold leaf and silver leaf is featured in many of her works, much like in traditional Japanese paintings using the same technique of one thousand years ago. 

She also uses silk screen to print images over the metal leaf. She paints on top of it with acrylic and colored ink along with traditional Nihonga pigments, which are simply powdered natural minerals.

Accidental Beauty
Yamano uses oxidation of silver leaf to achieve unexpected effects. Sulfur is sprayed on the silver leaf and when heat is applied, an instant iridescent pattern appears on the surface of the leaf. It inspires her imagination to paint on it, and the pattern is absorbed and merged into the unique image she creates.

Between Abstract and Realistic
A computer circuit board is one of Yamano’s favorite motifs. “Even though it is man-made and contains miniscule detail, it can also be seen as somewhat organic ― or as a macro vision, such as a birds-eye view of the earth. It is a real functional object, but it has an abstract beauty.”
To her, the abstract image is utterly realistic, and even a realistic image such as a flower is not just a flower, but a symbol of something beyond.
“Uniting of opposites is the consistent theme in my art - old and new, microcosmic and macrocosmic, abstract and realistic.”


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