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BOOKS

07.06.2017

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The first unusual thing about this book is its cover: it shows a picture of a snow owl in front of a light background, but its face is turned away from the viewer. Owls have the ability to turn their heads 270 degrees; but it is clear that this image can also be read symbolically, pointing as it does towards the introspective perspective and the mysterious aura of many of the Japanese photographer’s images.

Yamamoto Masao (born 1957) is strongly inspired by the Japanese values of Zen Buddhism, and the belief that meditation and the pursuit of beauty play an essential role in the development of human beings. His work is calm, poetic and extremely sensitive; and even when presenting it in photo book format, the artist is consistent in following his own path, making each book an inimitable and precious treasure.  

Birds (Tori in Japanese) are the central feature of this latest project. Using small format, black and white motifs, Masao draws on his earliest childhood memories, when, fascinated by birds and butterflies, he used to watch them outside his classroom window, dreaming of flying away with them. It is not the first time he dedicates his work to creatures of the air: they play a central role, not as nature studies but rather as a metaphorical reference to both their strength and their vulnerability.

In this book, the artist also breaks away from established visual habits: the series is not full of gloriously colourful, large-format images, but rather small, pale ones that lend a seeming fragility to the motifs. At times duplex tinted, at times individually pasted into the book, each motif is an object that appears to take a stand against mechanical, serial production photography.

“With his precious and, at the same time, puristic photographs, Yamamote Masao is pointing at the transcendental in nature,” says Felicitas Vogdt in the text accompanying the exhibition that remains on display in Munich until July, 30, 2017, and underlining the elegance of each of the one-of-a-kind photographs. The elaborate design of the book – for sure a collector’s item – also reflects many of the artist’s ideas, using the suggestive power of an image as an object of meditation, and directing the viewers towards their own memories and subconsciousness.
Ulrich Rüter

YAMAMOTO MASAO
TORI
156 pages, 93 images
31 x 24.7 cm, English
RADIUS BOOKS

Works by Yamamoto Masao will remain on display at the Stefan Vogdt Modern Gallery in Munich up until July 30, 2017. www.galerie-vogdt.de

Yamamoto Masao

Born in Gamagori, Aichi Prefecture, in 1957, Yamamoto Masao initially began his art studies as a painter. He has now been dedicated to photography for over 20 years. His subjects include still lifes, nudes and landscapes. He is today one of the most significant artistic photographers in Japan. In his numerous projects, exhibitions and books, Masao always works along the border between photography and painting.

www.yamamotomasao.jp
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