Japan’s Modern Divide: The Photographs of Hiroshi Hamaya and Kansuke Yamamoto

Published by Getty Publications, Los Angeles, 2013, 224 pages (colour & b/w ill.), 24.1 × 28 cm, English

Price: €28

Produced on the occasion of Japan’s Modern Divide: The Photographs of Hiroshi Hamaya and Kansuke Yamamoto at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, March 26 – August 25, 2013.

Throughout his career Hiroshi Hamaya pursued objective documentation, while Kansuke Yamamoto favoured avant-garde forms of expression. These photographers embody two sides of modern Japanese life: the traditional and the forward looking, the rural and the urban, the Eastern and the Western.

Both artists grew up during the brief Taishō era (1912–1926), a period of industrialization and experimentation that ushered in the modern Shōwa era (1926–1989). It was during this time, between the international Depression and World War II, that Hamaya began to document regional traditions and social issues, primarily on the country’s rugged “back coast” along the Sea of Japan. In contrast, Yamamoto found inspiration in Surrealist art from Europe and produced innovative, socially conscious photographs, poems, and other works that advanced the avant-garde movement in Japan.

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Conveyor of the Impossible Kansuke Yamamoto

Published by Tokyo Station Gallery, Tokyo, 2001, 319 pages (colour & b/w ill.), 21 x 14.1 cm, Japanese/English

Price: €60

Produced on the occasion of Kansuke Yamamoto: Conveyor of the Impossible, 22 August – 24 September, 2001.

Kansuke Yamamoto was a photographer and poet. He was a prominent Japanese surrealist born in Nagoya, Japan.

Yamamoto’s early experiments in collage and photomontage utilized the techniques of the Surrealists in tandem with his own artistic philosophies, beginning a lifelong dialogue in internalizing an internationally inherited art form into his own. While it is known that artists such as Man Ray, László Moholy-Nagy, Yves Tanguy and René Magritte were inspirational to Yamamoto during his artistic development, his photographic works and skills from the outset were strongly innovative and equally comparable to the European artists who he studied

This highly original work represents the socio political situation of the 1930s through a veil of whimsy, sexuality and lampoonery, signature themes in Yamamoto’s practice. By the end of the 1930s, he was leading the Nagoya avant-garde scene as an influential center in Japan. During the Pacific War and until the end of World War II artistic activities were forbidden, and it was after the war’s end that Yamamoto continued to create singular works; working in different mediums including photography, drawing, painting and poetry. – Taka Ishii gallery

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