Hiroshi Masaki: Kyoto–a Landscape Meditation

A leading figure of postwar Japanese photography explores Kyoto’s layered past, present and future through its storied architecture and landscape.

About the Artist

Hiroshi Masaki(b.1949, Uwajima, Japan) is a pivotal figure in modern Japanese photography who has often bridged the gap between Japanese and foreign artists. An expert in Avant-Garde and post-war photographic genres, his upbringing in the small city of Uwajima, near the coast of Shikoku, came at a shifting time in his nation’s past. A rare book dealer by trade, his pictures illuminate the cities and towns of his country with a contemplative gaze. His popular 2012 release Uwajima, a Private Landscape was a meditative study of his hometown, revisited and re-illustrated with Masaki’s attentive compositions based on shadow and line. Most of his images are absent of people, lending a stark quality to the structures that also gives them a greater sense of identity.

Project Story

In this collotype portfolio he explores the complexities and contradictions of his culture using the city of Kyoto as his muse. Rooted in the past and set on the future, Kyoto’s fortunate survival through World War II preserved a sense of tradition that radiates from its sophisticated architecture and stunning natural landscapes. This environment perfectly suited Masaki’s aesthetics, as even Kyoto devoid of human activity still radiates a complex visual narrative. The geometry of his compositions complements Kyoto’s wandering alleyways and collection of ancient and modern structures.

Portfolio Details

Masaki and the Benrido Atelier worked closely to produce a specially selected group of seven photographs to include in this portfolio. The collotype process perfectly suits Masaki’s aesthetic, relying heavily on the tonal depth and quality of highlights and shadows. The master printers at Benrido carefully executed the final prints, bring a clarity and nuance to all ranges of the tonal spectrum that elevates the visual experience of his photographs.

These 7 prints are produced in a limited edition of 30 portfolios, each individually numbered and housed in an expertly hand crafted clothbound cover. As is standard at Benrido the images are printed on the finest quality substrate, in this case Japanese Torinoko rice paper, adding an element of textural beauty that can only be truly appreciated in person.

As part of the 2015 Kyotographie photography festival in Kyoto, these images will be on view at Benrido Atelier Gallery from April 18-May 10.

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