Japanese Artist’s Highly Realistic Photo-Like Pencil Drawings on Display at Okayama Art Museum

Yomiuri Shimbun photos
Top: A piece depicting a teapot with realistic reflections
Bottom: A piece depicting a smooth textured water faucet

SETOUCHI, Okayama — Highly realistic pencil drawings created with utmost perfection by Kohei Omori, 29, an artist from Kita Ward, Okayama, are on display at Setouchi City Museum of Art in Setouchi, Okayama Prefecture. The precise details in the drawings, such as the reflections of objects on shiny surfaces, are stunning museum visitors.

Omori once suspended creative activities due to mental and physical stress, but “Pencil Drawing Kohei Omori Exhibition — Painters (People) Transcends Machines (Camera),” his first solo exhibition, was realized thanks to the enthusiastic support of Kazuomi Kishimoto, the museum’s director. “I want to continue creating works that convey even the textures and weights of the subjects to move people,” Omori said.

Omori said he was fascinated with drawing since he was a child. “I was good at concentrating on one thing, but not good at working on more than two things at the same time,” he said. After taking art lessons, Omori entered university to study design but quit after taking a temporary leave as he found it “difficult to complete multiple assignments at the same time.” Meanwhile, he began to create pencil drawings as he was impressed by the realistic drawings of overseas artists he saw on the internet.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kohei Omori

A turning point came in 2017 when his work depicting a bolt and a nut posted on X, then Twitter, got about 300,000 likes. “At that time, something I did as a test of my ability turned into something which I feel rewarded by moving others,” Omori said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A piece depicting a bolt and a nut that got 300,000 likes on social media and brought recognition to Omori

Although the drawing process of photorealistic artwork tends to attract attention, Omori said that taking photographs of the object for drawing “determines the work.” He takes more than 100 photos of an object with a smartphone, fine-tuning the lighting, angle of the subject and reflections. Using seven pencils of varying shades, he spends five to six hours a day drawing based on the selected photos.

The exhibition is displaying 15 of Omori’s works. The exhibition runs through June 30 and is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Mondays. Admission is ¥500 for adults and high school students, and free for junior high school students and younger.