Flower Basket
A1096
Yoko Semoto
A Hymn
Yoko Semoto
Athens Forest
Yoko Semoto
To-Ryanse
Yoko Semoto
Red Rose
Yoko Semoto
Fountain of Life
Yoko Semoto
Beginning of Spring
Yoko Semoto
A Gift
A1097
Yoko Semoto
Snowy Day
A1084
Yoko Semoto
Letter
A1110
Yoko Semoto
Afternoon Sunlight
A1102
Yoko Semoto
Journey of the Clouds
A1103
Yoko Semoto
The Speaker
A1104
Yoko Semoto
Spring
A1105
Yoko Semoto
Spring Wind
1
Yoko Semoto
Spring Thunder
2
Yoko Semoto
Adoring Mt. Fuji
3 [SOLD]
Yoko Semoto
Palace rose
7
Yoko Semoto
Like an angel
9
Yoko Semoto
1001 petals
10 [SOLD]
Yoko Semoto
Mt. Fuji
11 [HOLD]
Yoko Semoto
Field flowers
12 [HOLD]
Yoko Semoto
Cornflower
13
Yoko Semoto
Pomegranate
14
Yoko Semoto
Fig
15
Yoko Semoto
Persimmon
16
Yoko Semoto
Grape
17
Yoko Semoto
Cherry and apricot
18 [SOLD]
Yoko Semoto
Peach
19 [HOLD]
Yoko Semoto
Plum
20
Yoko Semoto
Peach flower
21
Yoko Semoto
White magnolia
22
Yoko Semoto
Sweet flag
23
Yoko Semoto
Chrysanthemum
A1125
Yoko Semoto
Spring path
25 [SOLD]
Yoko Semoto
Flower keeper
26
Yoko Semoto
Twentieth birthday
27 [SOLD]
Yoko Semoto
Present
28 [HOLD]
Yoko Semoto
Three muses
29
Yoko Semoto
Sound of spring steps
30
Yoko Semoto
Morning glow
31
Yoko Semoto
Festival
32
Yoko Semoto
Great arch of the sky
33 [SOLD]
Yoko Semoto
Yoko Semoto
Born in 1930, Yoko SEMOTO is now eighty years old and continues to work actively, producing tempera paintings on lavish, gold-leaf backgrounds. The daughter of a strict stockbroker and frugal mother, she enjoyed a rich education, studying oil painting after the Second World War, then moving to Paris on her own in 1962. Her original intention had been to study the work of the Impressionists, but she became fascinated with the medieval/early-renaissance paintings she discovered in the Louvre Museum and began traveling regularly to Italy to study the tempera paintings there.

After returning to Japan, she visited numerous temples to study Buddhist statues. In so doing her unique eye discerned a fundamental similarity that exists between Buddhist and medieval/early-renaissance art, and decided to devote herself to the recreation of the ideal of the sanctification of truth, virtue and beauty or the simple bliss to be found in daily life, through modern tempera paintings. It proved extremely difficult to study tempera painting in Japan at that time. Her only instruction came from ‘Il libro dell'arte’ (The Craftsman's Handbook), a book written by Cennino Cennini in around 1400, which describes the techniques used in the Florentine studios at that time. However, through perseverance she gradually succeeded in mastering the art of painting in egg tempera on a gold background.

SEMOTO goes to great lengths to obtain the materials she uses in her work. In an effort to recreate the transparent tones of the numerous medieval tempera paintings she saw while she was in Europe, she carried out repeated experiments using traditional Japanese pigments and hide glue and in addition, wherever she travels, she gathers samples of rocks that she uses to create her own, unique pigments. In particular the blue she uses is obtained from natural lapis lazuli rock while the sepia is produced from squid ink. She also uses only the very best quality verdigris, natural rose madder and Japanese gold leaf, and this is probably because she believes that the changes that take place in the colors over the passage of years represent an almost sacred process of regeneration and resurrection within the world of nature.

SEMOTO’s work expresses the simple joy of childhood and the warmth and kindness of humanity, while overflowing with love in a manner that is rarely to be seen in contemporary art. It represents an elegant naivety, unique to Japan, and one of the essences of the distinctive national character that loves transience, the juvenile or the fragile. SEMOTO’s work is imbued with a longing for a time of love that is long lost in both Japan and Europe, the flowers that spring out from the gleaming gold, wrapped in a delicate, fruity scent, seem to offer benediction.

SEMOTO says that one reason why she continues to work in tempera is that the techniques involved echo those of traditional Japanese ink painting. She also applies her paints to the medium of glass, using a unique technique that is the same as was used for the oldest type of European glass painting. She also likes to use sheep parchment, which is difficult to obtain today. She is unflagging in her research into classic European or Japanese techniques and her use of the medium of tempera can be said to resemble a quest for the truth.


1930 Born in Tamashima, Kurashiki City, Okayama Pref.

1954-57 Studied oil painting at Musashino Art University

1962- Moved to France to live in Paris. Traveled to Italy
numerous times and also visited the U.S.A. (1965)

1974-84 Traveled to Paris and Europe numerous times

1990 Held solo exhibition at Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art
She has held numerous solo exhibitions in Japan.