Photographer Masao Yamamoto (1957-present) was born in Aichi Prefecture in Japan. Originally interested in pursuing painting, studying oil painting specifically under Goro Saito. Though Yamamoto eventually transitioned into photography in 1993, his painting background is apparent in his works’ painterly look, incorporating blurs and experimenting with printing surfaces; with many Yamamoto photographs, he manipulated the silver gelatin prints through analogue means such as painting the images with tea or actual paint and tearing them. Subjects vary wildly, ranging from Japanese countryside to nude female bodies. Many liken Yamamoto’s art to haikus, considering his mastery of brevity and focus on everyday details. His work is on permanent display at museums like the J.P. Morgan Chase Art Collection as well as many other private, corporate and public collections.
The photographer’s style is a study in tactile experience, encouraging viewer engagement through nuanced layers and unique museum and gallery installations. His extremely detail-oriented approach creates an intricate, ephemeral feel; each photograph is an isolated section of a larger series, like A Box of Ku, which featured handheld-sized images. Most of his series work is unframed and artificially aged to mimic a tangibility, further lending to the accessibility.
Yamamoto has published many monographs, including Tori (Radius Books, 2016), Poems of Santoka (Galerie Vevais, 2016), Small things in silence, (Editorial RM, 2014), KAWA=Flow (Kochuten Books, 2011), YAMAMOTO MASAO (21st Editions, 2011), Fujisan (Nazraeli Press, 2008), é (Nazraeli Press, 2005), Omizuao (Nazraeli Press, 2003), Santoka (Harunatsuakifuyu Sousho, Japan, 2003), The Path of Green Leaves (Nazraeli Press, 2002) and A Box of Ku (Nazraeli Press, 1998).
The artist has had pieces on display in museums and galleries across the United States, Japan, Europe, Russia and Brazil. His work is included in permanent collections like International Center of Photography, Victoria and Albert Museum, the Sir Elton John Collection. Yamamoto has also had photographs hung at Jackson Fine Art, including solo shows Nakazora (2003) and A Box of Ku (1999) and group show Contemporary Japanese Photography.