In the early twentieth century Paris was in love with everything Japanese; in the early twenty-first it seems that the tables are turned, and there is a strong nostalgia in Japan for everything decadent, romantic and sensual about French art and culture from the 1890s and 1900s. Thus the talented and prolific artist Alphonse Inoue, while he might sound French, is actually Japanese, taking his nom d’artiste from the French word ‘inouï’, or one who is unheard.

Inoue grew up in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture, and began his art studies in 1959 at the Musashino Art College, now the Musashino Art University.

After graduating Inoue specialised in book illustration, gradually transferring into the world of copper plate engraving, where his trademark etchings featuring naked young women, sphinxes and snake-like creatures found a ready market in the specialist world of bookplates.

His book illustration work includes contributions to works by Kosaku Ikuta, Hinatsu Rei, Jean Cassou and Joyce Mansour, and he started exhibiting in 1992. He regularly has solo exhibitions all over Japan, including Kobe, Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo.

A small collection of his work was published in 1992, but his best-known published work is Belles filles (Beautiful Girls), published by Gakuha Miyakokan in 2003, which as well as bookplates includes works based on English and French poetry, and a selection of illustrations based on mythological works.

We are very grateful to our Russian friend Yuri for suggesting the inclusion of this artist, and for supplying most of the images.


Example illustration