Yamamoto Masao’s photographic work transcends the apparent simplicity of the subjects portrayed by introducing a poetic language around which gather as if in contemplation.
The precious, minute images tell the tension always residing between the observer and the subject.
Characterized by a unique aesthetic treatment -thin, silent but at the same time powerful- Masao’s shots narrate the world by fragments, moments whose delicacy gives the impression of being able to enclose them in the palm of a hand.
For Yamamoto Masao photography must be understood in its most traditional sense as an artisanal process: a writing of light through which the author, taking advantage of a wise method of printing and balanced interventions such as tears, bumps, spots, creates a particular poetic atmosphere. A sort of suspension of time and space that is also helped by the absence of color and by the search for a sophisticated balance between full and empty.
The choice to work in the black and white register, although almost ordinary in certain traditional artistic photography, is not obvious for Masao who sees this choice correspond to a typical oriental sensibility that has specific roots; the a-chromatism as well as the a-symmetry are not in fact intended as the absence of color or imbalance, indeed, as expressive choices that are effective in reporting an enchantment.
The feeling of vague, the unexpressed, the sense of mystery present in the works, are elements perceived, but not rationally explainable: something that tells the infinite nuances of the possible that inhabit the observation of Nature and things.
Evoking an ideal of sober and calm beauty, perceptible only through a contemplative recollection, (in that emotional state that the Japanese call seijuku, or of deep calm in the middle of the activity) Masao reproduces a secret, precious universe next to the world itself.
The silence that slowly emerges from the voids of the deep to envelop the subjects, the infinite range of gray semitones in tension with the dark and milky backgrounds from which the artist draws the subject, shape space and perception. And the subject, although it appears similar to its true referent, seems to reach our gaze after a long journey that has seen it emerge from a placid oblivion.
Yamamoto Masao was born in Japan in the Prefecture of Aichi in 1957, he studied painting before choosing photography as a definitive specialization. He took part in his first show in 1994 at Shapiro’s Gallery in San Francisco; his first solo show at the Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York, in 1996, took him to many other exhibitions in the United States. Since 2006 he regularly exhibits his work in galleries and museums in Europe, Japan, Russia and Brazil. Media coverage includes publications such as the New York Times and various other specialized publications. Masao currently lives in Japan at Yatsugatake Nanroku, in Yamanashi prefecture, where he works closely with nature.