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Koho Yamamoto

At age 96, the masterful New York-based artist KOHO YAMAMOTO continues to produce her dynamic sumi-e brush paintings, while teaching and inspiring a new generation of sumi-e brush painters.

Her work, described as “fantastic dark landscapes” and “exceptionally beautiful” by Art News and Isamu Noguchi respectively, was profiled in a feature by The New York Times and is available for museum and gallery presentation or acquisition.

Her style of painting ranges from expressionistic landscapes to bold, energetic black & white abstractions displaying the artistry of an active and accomplished painter trained by Chiura Obata, whose own landscapes were recently displayed at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Yamamoto founded the Koho School of Sumi-e in Soho, New York, where she instructed students in traditional Japanese brush painting technique for almost 40 years until 2010. With the school’s closure, Yamamoto was featured in the Times’ articles, “An Endangered Japanese Art Form Loses Its Outpost in Soho” and “Reflections on a Stilled Paintbrush”. In 2013, Nippon Television Network (NTV) aired a documentary on her life and art.

Yamamoto has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions over her long career, with her most recent exhibition, 'The Handshake', showing at Cubico, Soho, in 2017. She also taught at Columbia University, New York University, Parsons School of Design, the Japanese American Society, the Nippon Museum and other institutions.

Born in San Francisco in 1922 as Masako Yamamoto, she along with her family was forced to move to the Topaz War Relocation Center with the outbreak of World War II. At the Utah internment camp, she studied with the renowned artist, Chiura Obata, who was also confined there. In recognition of her skill and artistry, Professor Obata conferred upon her the name ‘Koho’, which is a Japanese tradition of denoting artistic lineage from masters to their outstanding pupils. Obata’s name translates to ‘A Thousand Harbors’ and Koho translates as ‘Red Harbor’. At the close of the war, Yamamoto moved to New York to study painting at the Art Students League and was awarded the Allen Tucker Scholarship. Many of her pieces reflect the abstract expressionist movement afoot at that time.

See Koho's latest prints here, on Designate Your Passion.

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