SAN FRANCISCO – The Robert Koch Gallery is pleased to present Bonsai | Microcosms Macrocosms by Japanese artist Yamamoto Masao. The artist’s newest series Bonsai focuses on the traditional Japanese art of cultivating miniature ornamental trees or shrubs. Yamamoto has always had an intrinsic interest in bonsai, and the project materialized when he had the opportunity to meet Minoru Akiyama, one of the most highly revered bonsai artists in Japan, with whom he has been collaborating since 2017. Of the work and bonsai, Yamamoto comments “Its life, sustained inside a small pot, with the smallest amount of soil, both embraces tranquility of life and agitation of death. Its existence, so powerful, distinguished, and radiating, makes it worthy of marvel. While a bonsai mimics nature, it is not left untamed in the wild. Bonsai is a creation born out of a playful collaboration between nature and people. It’s purpose can be perceived as one of metaphysical ideology… The world of bonsai is similar to that of the world of haiku and waka, as it is built on minimal elements alone. Furthermore, I’ve always felt that photography and haiku are very similar methods of expression.“
Included in the exhibition are works by the artist from his Kawa=Flow (tori/bird) and Kakejiku series, the latter of which presents Yamamoto’s work printed on gampi paper mounted onto the scrolls using time-honored techniques and materials such as kimono silk, washi paper, and wheat starch paste.
Yamamoto’s photographs and installations have been exhibited at numerous international institutions, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; the George Eastman House, Rochester; the Carrousel du Louvre, Paris; the Galerie de Moderne, Munich; the Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea, Rome; and the Galeria d’Arte Moderna di Bologna. Yamamoto’s photographs are included in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the International Center of Photography, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and the Sir Elton John Collection, among others. His monographs include Tori (Radius Books, 2016); Fujsan (Nazraeli Press, 2008); é (Nazraeli Press, 2005); Omizuao (Nazraeli Press, 2003); Nakazora (Nazraeli Press, 2001); and A Box of Ku (Nazraeli Press, 1998).