The Japanese artist Kaname Ozuma (or in Japanese naming order, which puts the family name first, Ozuma Kaname) grew up in Niigata on the country’s east coast, and was trained in classical Japanese painting by his uncle, the master Sakai Soushi. For many of his works he also used the nom d’artiste Yoko Youko, or Yoko the Fox.

For many years he painted traditional Japanese subjects, including landscapes and mythological scenes, but he came to wider attention when he became fascinated by Japanese tattoo, and met the legendary tattooist Horiyoshi III. From this collaboration came several collections of paintings of woman with detailed and colourful Horiyoshi tattoos, starting with Woman in Tattoo and Tattooing.

Around 2000 Ozuma’s attention turned to a more explicitly erotic subject, that of sexual bondage or kinbaku, more commonly referred to in the west as shibari, which actually refers to a looser, more decorative form of ropework. During the last years of his life he produced several hundred paintings on the subject, treading a fine line between reality, fantasy and censorship.

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

Example illustration