Small prints with indistinct borders that are sometimes worn away, like old photos aged by time, but which form a net contrast with their refined, sharp content. Viewers come closer to discover the subject of these photographic miniatures and remain amazed by the print's clarity.
Masao Yamamoto's photos have always been quite small, but his recent works are even more so. Whether displayed in a gallery or printed on the glossy pages of a book, the format is always the same. This compels us to view them in a very special way because we are virtually forced to stop and observe in order to see them. This heightens the natural approach to a visual image which is deliberate and attentive, an approach we often do not make use of because of other factors such as the strong emotional impact of the image that captures us, that grabs our attention. In this latter situation, we are passive at the beginning. In the former, we are the ones who have to decide to activate our visual and interpretive faculties.
However, this is not an intellectual or elite activity. In some exhibits, Yamamoto has not only hung his photos on the walls of the gallery, but also provided for some to be contained in an old wooden box visitors can rummage through, picking up the prints that interest them. Other times he has placed his prints in accordion-fold books.
Those who concede themselves the time to carefully observe Masao Yamamoto's photographs will find themselves faced by marvelous prints the work of a great photographer. Using his skill he creates still-lifes and sophisticated nature images that have the same basic intensity. The small format, irregular edges, quality of the texture of the print surface, the use of paint on the photo--all these elements make each print a small gem, a one-of-a-kind object.
In this study, Box of Ku, which he began in the Eighties, Yamamoto has added new, small images to give us back the time (not all of it lost) to stop and observe how many beautiful things--secretly--surround us.
by Rosanna Checchi
Masao Yamamoto is represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York. www.yanceyrichardson.com