Masao Yamamoto

The aesthetic power of the pictures of Yamamoto Masao (Japan, b. 1957) is unique. Refined, subtle and powerful at the same time. He succeeds to unfold the photographic medium into his own world, far off leading standards. The photo prints are small, sometimes even minuscule, and require a profound observation. The manual modifications by the artist provide an experimental look, with frayed edges and color additions. His photographs seem to be marked by time, but that impression is the result of a balanced and accurate intervention by the artist. The technique of mixed media and the exceptional prints generate a close connection with the object. Yamamoto narrates no prefabricated story. He offers a glimpse into a harmonious world that is visible for everyone, but not perceived by everybody. For Yamamoto, harmony is the constant interaction between man and nature. Yamamoto’s work is anchored in that direct relationship with his environment.

He has four series: A box of Ku, Nakazora, KAWA=FLOW and his latest series Shizuka=Cleanse.

A box of Ku
Vast landscapes, societies, countries and space are all made from smaller parts.
These small things not only exist as elements that make up the whole; they each have their own story, as everyone has their own life. Under the rock there are thousands of baby ants being born, caterpillars eating leaves, birds that are attacked by cats - small events are taking place in the continuous flow of time.
Searching for beauty within these easily overlooked small events.

It represents a broader space than A Box of Ku. The space between sky and earth, the place where birds, etc. fly. Empty air.. An internal hollowness. Vague. Hollow. Around the center of the sky. Emptiness. A state when feet do not touch the ground. Inattentiveness. The inability to decide between two things. Midway. The center of the sky (the zenith). A Buddhist term.

This serie is about the world where we are and the world where we go to in the future. Although we seem to be connected continually there is a rupture between us in the present and those that went before us or that come next.
I tried to perceive this rupture as a KAWA (FLOW, river) that divides a plain
and expressed the resulting reflections in this works.

Living in the forest, I feel the presence of many “treasures” breathing quietly in nature. I call this presence “Shizuka.”
“Shizuka” means cleansed, pure, clear, and untainted.
I walk around the forest and harvest my “Shizuka” treasures from soil. I try to catch the faint light radiated by these treasures with both my eyes and my camera.
In Tao Te Ching , an ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu wrote , “A great presence is hard to see. A great sound is hard to hear. A great figure has no form.”
What he means is that the world is full of noises that we humans are not capable of hearing. For example, we cannot hear the noises created by the movement of the universe. Although these sounds exist, we ignore them altogether and act as if only what we can hear exists. Lao-tzu teaches us to humbly accept that we only play a small part in the grand scheme of the universe.
I feel connected to his words. I have always sensed that there is something precious in nature. I have an impression that something very vague and large might exist beyond the small things I can feel. This is why I started collecting “Shizuka” treasures.
“Shizuka” transmits itself through the delicate movement of air, the smell of the earth, the faint noises of the environment, and rays of light. “Shizuka” sends messages to all five of my senses.


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