Masao Yamamoto: Small Things in Silence

Masao Yamamoto‘s highly contrasted black and white photographs celebrate and embrace nature. They depict landscapes, nudes, and still lives in compositions made eerie by their play of light and dark. Imbued with mystery and gentle beauty his photographs are like visual poems, odes to nature. The exhibition currently on at Galeria Valid Foto Bcn is a retrospective of his career and encompasses work from four series: Wabi-Sabi, Box of Ku, Nakazora, and Kawa.

Yamamoto was born in Gamagori, Japan, in 1957. He has a background in painting which is evident in his approach to photography – he seeks to individualise the photographic prints as objects. He also alters and experiments with the surfaces of his pictures, using dyes, teas, and scratches. Inspired by Zen philosophy, Yamamoto’s photographs have a distinctly spiritual nature and affirm his belief in meditation and the pursuit of beauty. He is a shrewd observer with an eye for beauty and in his photographs the ordinary becomes extraordinary – a branch becomes a delicate drawing, a stone becomes an intricate sculpture, a tree becomes a deep black explosion.

The subjects of his photographs transmit a deep harmony and they encourage to viewer to meditate and make connections with their own memories. They glow, overflowing with light: in a dark coastal forest landscape two luminous ladders stand out, mapping a path to the heavens; a group of monkeys sit in a fog-drenched pool, barely visible; a glass overflowing with a white smoke stands next to a glowing cube of ice and a round object; a snow-white owl sitting passively, his head turned 180° so that he appears to be faceless. They have a distinctly vintage feel, an effect which Yamamoto achieves with an artificial aging process that includes taking them on walks and rubbing them with his hands. This is important as it adds to the mystery and nostalgia which makes his photographs so unique.

Wonder, peace, and an appreciation for life’s mysteries are some of the things you might gain from this exhibition.

masao yamamoto, small things in silence