Controversial Artist Toshio Saeki’s Peculiar Erotic Work

One of Japan’s most infamous artists, Toshio Saeki, will soon have his work on display at San Francisco’s 111 Minna Gallery.

Called “the godfather of Japanese erotica,” Toshio Saeki has cultivated a unique and shocking style – blending traditional Japanese technique with his own twisted imagination.

Saeki’s artwork is a synthesis of depraved vision and incredible artistic ability.

“A famous writer once described my works as ‘obviously peculiar’ and I cannot completely deny that,” he said.

“I want to surprise people, make them happy, and if possible, even completely enchant the minds of those who see my work. To realize that, I will choose whatever method it takes, and will not limit myself.”

Saeki embraces the controversial nature of his work. He seeks to challenge social norms by placing the unconscious in plain view.

“In the modern world, where one rarely stops to think about the truth behind the moment, you might enjoy it if you take a peep at my mysterious and strange illusions,” he said.

“To those who frown at them, I want to place the drawings right in front of your face and ask if you really disapprove. I’m always thinking, how wonderful it would be to give shape to psychological pictures which everyone hides and holds deep within them.”

111 Minna Gallery and Last Gasp Present
Toshio Saeki
Opens Thursday, Sept. 4th at 5pm
Show runs November 4th – 27th


In a modern version of traditional Japanese woodcut printing, Saeki creates finished work in conjunction with a printing professional. The artist typically prepares only black and white originals. He does not apply color directly to these pieces, but instead uses overlays to enumerate the precise values of the colors he wants.

Saeki works with the terminology of the four-color printing process: cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). For example, he indicates a woman’s skin tone should be reproduced with 10% magenta, while her nipples should be 60% magenta. Most of the men in Saeki’s artwork have a skin tone that is 30% magenta, 20% cyan, and 50% yellow.

He calls this method chinto printing – the picture is complete only after it has been printed. It is a modern version of the ukiyo-e, a genre of Japanese woodcut prints or paintings produced between the 17th and 20th centuries. Ukiyo-e were works of collaboration between the eshi (artist) and the surishi (printer). Saeki is paying homage to this style, and considers himself an eshi.


A new book by the artist, which was just released by Last Gasp features a selection of Saeki’s previously unpublished works. The art is shown in a gorgeously large format. Throughout the book, paper vellum overlays re-create Saeki’s unique method for adding color to his black and white artwork. Both original black and white renderings and finished color artwork is shown. However, the reader is not allowed to see every image in all stages. Like the artist, the viewer must use his or her imagination to complete these peculiar pictures.

Preview Onikage by Toshio Saeki
56 pages, Hardcover, 11 ¾” x 14 ½”, Color and b&w images, paper vellum inserts
ISBN 978-0-86719-719-7, $39.95
Publication date: August 2010
Published by Last Gasp

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