Neo Shunga Artist Zoe Lacchei: Italian by Birth, Japanese in Spirit
Marijn Kruijff
11 min

Neo Shunga Artist Zoe Lacchei: Italian by Birth, Japanese in Spirit

11 min

Tattoo art and shunga are fairly closely intertwined. The search term ‘tattoo shunga‘ in Google Images offers an extensive amount of entertaining examples of this. Upon closer examination, we can see that many contemporary tattoo artists have embraced the aesthetics of ukiyo-e and shunga. A striking example of this, is the highly-skilled Italian Pop-surrealist painter and tattoo artist Zoe Lacchei.

portrait zoe lacchei

Portrait Zoë Lacchei‘ (2010) Photo by Daniele Prato

zoe lacchei portrait with crown'Portrait Zoe Lacchei with crown '

zoe lacchei

Sketch ‘Vicious Lovers‘ (2012) (Model : Mika Mae Jones)

zoe lacchei Leda and the Swan

Leda and the Swan

Intuitive Beauty

Her paintings and graphite drawings are predominantly inhabited by women and/or animals and characterized by strong sensual visions, an intuitive beauty that stimulates the beholder’s imagination, leaving him or her something to guess. In an earlier interview, she explains ‘It’s like a Rorschach blot test. The personality, psyche and history of ‘the observing subject’ influence their interpretation of ‘the object observed’. The fact that she worked as an adult/porn comic illustrator between 1998 and 2000 will certainly have determined her later erotically charged art.

zoe lacchei

Martyr of Love‘ (2015)

zoe lacchei

The Penitent Magdalene‘ (2016)

Woody Allen

Lacchei’s influences can be found in the American Lowbrow art scene, in particular Mark Ryden, as well as in Japanese gothic art of an artist like Takato Yamamoto  But strikingly enough, Lacchei considers the filmmaker Woody Allen and the Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki as her greatest role models in art. Both working in a different medium.

Zoe Lacchei: Evil Goat

Master of Temptation – Evil goat

Kiss of the Vulture Zoe Lacchei

Kiss of Vulture

Ofelia Zoe Lacchei


zoe lacchei Doll's Daydream

Doll’s Daydream

Marilyn Manson

An important early supporter and fan of her work is the notorious singer and visual artist Marilyn Manson. For him, she produced thirteen paintings for his Gold Disc (Golden Age of the Grotesque) in 2004, which were collected in the original portfolio: Metamorphosis, the art of Zoe Lacchei. In 2007, she also did the artwork for Manson’s album ‘Eat me, Drink me‘. These projects were both aesthetically and financially decisive for Lacchei, and gave her creative freedom.

zoe lacchei_ eat me drink me -Marilyn Manson

Artwork for the Marilyn Manson CD album ‘Eat me, Drink me‘ (2006-07) (Source:

Sketches of a Dangerous Mind

Sketches of a Dangerous Mind is an ongoing project that she started in 2012, after coming out from depression. The earlier paintings in this series clearly represent her state of mind at the time by the omitting of colors.

Mixed media on Beer Coaster ‘Samurai girl Usagi‘ (2019) from the series “Sketches of a Dangerous Mind

Japanese Culture

Lacchei considers Japan as her home away from home. From an early age she started drawing manga (Japanese cartoons) and was drawn to all the various aspects of Japanese culture. She sees Japan as the final destination of her artistic and personal journey. ‘A difficult road as it is the only place in the world where ‘excellence’ is judged at the highest level’ as she explained in an earlier interview with Beautiful Bizarre. For her “Geisha” project in 2007 she was inspired by the half-length portraits of Japanese beauties (Bijin-ga) of ukiyo-e artists like Utamaro and Kunisada.

zoe lacchei: Geisha with Tattooed Cat

Giclée print ‘Geisha with Tattooed Cat‘ (2007)

zoe lacchei tattooed Japanese female

Kujira’s Revenge‘ by Zoë Lacchei

zoe lacchei tattooed geisha

Geisha with Koi Carp

zoe lacchei geisha with the fan

Geisha with the Fan

zoe lacchei geisha of the bones

Geisha of the Bones

zoe lacchei geisha mantis

Geisha Mantis

zoe lacchei Albino geisha

Albino Geisha

Snow White Zoe Lacchei

Snow White

zoe lacchei octopus geisha

‘Geisha and Octopus‘ (2008)

zoe lacchei never given kiss

Sketch of The Sad Story of a Never Given Kiss (2012)

zoe lacchei die antwoord

Die Antwoord 

zoe lacchei Benisato

'Benisato ' (2015)

Vampirella Zoe Lacchei cover

Vampirella‘ #25 (Cover G)

zoe lacchei red room'Cover for Red Room magazine '

zoe lacchei barbarella with bat'Vampirella with bat '

zoe lacchei temptress'Alexandra the Tamer '

zoe lacchei pin up'Koneko 'zoe lacchei pin up art'Nana '

pin up art by Zoe Lacchei'Mikaela '

zoe lacchei tied girl

zoe lacchei nude girls with leopard

zoe lacchei erotic

zoe lacchei erotic art

zoe lacchei girl with ravens

zoe lacchei breastfeeding

zoe lacchei madame la guillotine'Madame La Guillotine'

zoe lacchei bondage

Neo Shunga

In Lacchei’s more recent “neo shunga” work (depicted below) she continues to build on her fascination with Japan and offers an enchanting visual ode to her ancient Japanese predecessors…

Zoe Lacchei Neo shunga Raijin

Inked version of ‘Raijin‘ (2019) – Black ink on paper  (Photo by Dido Fontana)*

Plexiglass version of ‘Raijin‘ (Photo by Dido Fontana)*

Zoe Lacchei Neo shunga Goku

Inked version of ‘Goku‘ – (2019) Black ink on paper (Photo by Dido Fontana)*


This “Goku” work is inspired by one of my personal favorite shunga tableaux featuring a satyr-like Dutch couple from Yanagawa Shigenobu’s “Willow Storm” series issued in the late 1820s.

Plexiglass version of ‘Goku‘ (Photo by Dido Fontana)*

Zoe Lacchei Neo shunga Tigers

Mixed media on giclée prints ‘Tigers‘ (2019)  (Photo by Dido Fontana)*

Zoe Lacchei Neo shunga Siamese Twins

Mixed media on giclée prints ‘Siamese twins‘ (2019)  (Photo by Dido Fontana)*

Mixed media on giclée prints ‘Onnagata‘ (2019)  (Photo by Dido Fontana)*

The tattooed knees of the Russian man in the picture are ‘thieves’ stars’ that carry the symbolic meaning “I will never get on my knees for anyone.”

Click HERE for another neo shunga artist with a strong passion for Japanese culture…!!

More of the artist’s appealing art can be found on her Instagram account…!!

The above pieces are available in her shop (We are fans, not an affiliate!)…..!!

*All the above images were kindly (and exclusively) provided by the artist!

Let us know your thoughts on the sensual art of Zoe Lacchei in the comment box below….!!