Keisuke YAMAMOTO Solo Show: Signs of seasons

Keisuke YAMAMOTO Solo Show: Signs of seasons
2021.11.19th — 12.19th

Adopting the aesthetics principles of animism in Japanese art, Keisuke Yamamoto (b. 1979) is featuring painting and sculpture in his solo exhibition – Signs of Seasons – at Hiro Hiro Art Space. Through self-exploration and examination of the land’s depth time, Yamamoto has created an imaginary space inhabited by kami – spirits in the Shinto religion – where nature and culture exist in entanglement. In the small details we sense and perceive the wholesome picture, and the aggregate made up of messages that cannot be accurately communicated illustrate a worldview in which all beings are interconnected, intertwined, and mutually influential.

Yamamoto graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts, where he majored in fine arts with a concentration in sculpture. After the 2000s, he published a sculpture series that combined bright-colored images of flowers, mushrooms, and female figures to create vivacious, lively organisms.  After 2012, his artworks were tinted with hues of land – he was inspired by folk toys and folk craft, placing more focus towards “humans’ creating history and their impulses of creating arts;” while that did not conform with mainstream art history’s linear perspective, what Yamamoto concerned himself with were creations that are marginal, sporadic, deeply rooted in the common people’s lives.

Clouds under the earth (Sleeping Me) / oil, wood / 2016-2017 / h.276 x w.80 x d.75 cm

The artist utilized wood as his creative medium, extracting the Japanese aesthetic idea of yorishiro, which refers to an object capable of attracting kami , and attempts at sculpturing the kami from out of different wooden materials. By personifying indescribable feelings and imaginations, the artist explores a collective consciousness particular to such locality and national character.

Keisuke Yamamoto has modestly claimed that, while his sculptures are created for nature and life, images of such objects are not perpetual – instead they are fluid, capable of taking in all freeform imaginations. In other words, what Yamamoto does is sculpt the “aggregate of abstract feelings” of that peculiar moment; what he captures is “the now moment” that has awakened his spirits. As posited by French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, time is not linear but instead a collection of points – it is every “present moment” that runs through every individual being, and yet this “present” simultaneously includes both the past and the future, and this explicitly embodies the idea of yorishiro in Japanese culture – the belief that kami exists in the details.

It is worth noting that, in the two years since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Yamamoto has been spending even more time before the canvas, and in this solo exhibition we can witness how the two media are blended in presentation.

Yamamoto believes that the relationship between painting and sculpture resembles a Mobius strip – complementary, symmetrical, and interconnected. Painting is a “2-dimensional sculpture;” the artist sits before the quadrilateral frame of their canvas, patiently waiting for images and the right language to emerge and arise from nothingness. In contrast to the creating-from-nothing, fundamental self-inspection process in painting, sculpture is a “3-dimensional canvas” – the appeal is freedom from necessitating fabricated images. Instead, it can make use of existing natural materials that infuse the observer’s everyday life, and because objects have acquired kami, they will naturally hold all kinds of perspectives.

In Yamamoto’s words, such are “the common people’s ‘creativity’ and ‘power of imagination’ that are yet buried beneath the surface;” they are influenced by religion, customs, and culture – myths and folklores that run through the veins of the people – which is why they trigger empathetic déjà vu feelings in their viewers.

Beyond the motherland, there lies infinitely profound depth time. Keisuke Yamamoto believes that, in such place resides the common people’s collective consciousness – a timeline with no beginning and no end and nothing but a string of imageries. Time leads to the past and also to the future; everything in the past and in the future coexists in ichi-go ichi-e – the concept of “once in a lifetime moment.” Yamamoto says, land and underground hold a power of inescapable, fatal attraction over me, that is my piety and awe towards our motherland.” Nature is not the wilderness far away in sight; it is an aggregate in which humans are entangled and inseparable within. We are caught deep down in nature and must rely on our imagination and listening to perceive signs in our surroundings – “In this chaotic darkness underground, I long for the vision of free- floating clouds.”

About Keisuke YAMAMOTO


Keisuke Yamamoto was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1979. He graduated from the Department of Fine Arts (Sculpture Major) of Tokyo Zokei University in 2001 and stayed at the university as a research student until 2003. In 2018, he earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from the Graduate School of Tokyo University of the Arts, specializing in sculpture.
Achieved group exhibitions including “VOCA 2008” The Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo, Japan; 2009 “Winter Garden:The Exploration of the Micropop Imagination in Contemporary Japanese Art” (Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, World Tour); 2014 “Nostalgia and Fantasy: Imagination and It’s Origins Contemporary Art” National  Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan; 2018 “Takashi Murakami’s collection”, Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto, Japan, etc. His works are collected by institutions such as The National Museum of Art, Osaka and The Japan Foundation, etc.

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