Born in Aichi Prefecture, Japan in 1957, Masao Yamamoto studied painting before he chose photography as his media. Since 1994, he has been actively showing at galleries and museums in the U.S., Europe, Japan, Russia, and Brazil. His work has been featured in the NY Times, LA Times and other major art magazines. Yamamoto lives in Yatsugatake Nanroku, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan where he enjoys creating his work while being close to nature.
He describes his work:
I am always inspired by everything that exists around me; nature, people, words spoken by people, spirits, different smells… Inspiration I receive from these things is taken inside, gets mixed with who I am, and something special from that mixture comes out of me as my art.
I have been expressing myself through art for over 40 years.
During these years I constantly asked myself:
What did I see? What did I not see?
What did I say? What did I not say?
My quest for answers to these questions led to my creations.
I was unsure about my niche in this universe, my “place” in this existence; and I needed to believe in art in order to keep on living.
On my journey of self-discovery, I stopped often and made many detours. The works I “dropped” along the way mark my footsteps - chaotic and inconsistent as they might be.
When I look back upon my path, I realize that the one consistent motif in my work was my obsession for small things. I feel joy when I discover seemingly insignificant things that may be easily overlooked. I am interested in those awkward feelings – such as when you miss a button hole or are stalled and lost in a disorienting fog. I prefer whispering my messages in a soft voice instead of speaking them out loud. My messages may be so soft as to be mistaken for illusions.
I know I will carry these feelings with me for a long time.
I hope that the faint waves that my work emits, grow into quiet, yet eloquent messages that will be reaching you.
Yamamoto’s work is often compared to Haiku.
One characteristic of Haiku is its ability to create a realistic image in people’s mind with minimum words. The medium of my work is photography, which is one of the quietest ways of art expression. My work is small and monotone. It does not have much texture like paintings or sculpture. If you display my work next to loud, talkative art, people would probably walk right by it without even noticing it. I choose to make my art using an old, simple method, as I wonder if we really need all this information that saturates our world today. I also feel too much information would give viewers indigestion, and they would not receive much from it.
I feel this is how I am. I try to take time and speak to my viewers quietly, with as little information as possible. I hope people can perceive something from the information as if in a hunt for treasure.