I want to welcome you to our first Viewing Room. The past year I have been championing the haptic - or physical - experience and encouraging people to go and see photographs, and where possible, to hold them, look at them closely and examine their surfaces and tonality. In so doing we appreciate their physical properties, which is so different for every photograph.
However, this new world we currently find ourselves in has made the haptic experience almost impossible. And so, since lock-down the gallery has been working remotely to produce a new, and we hope, exciting experience for you that contains many new facets that you can explore.
We have photographed the pieces, sometimes in raking light, so as to offer something other than a scan, we have created short videos of some pieces, written personal responses about particular works and artists and unearthed material from our research files. In the coming weeks we will share additional content from our archives, whilst offering further personal insights and material that we hope offers something authentic and insightful about what excites us now and what has sustained our passion for over 30 years.
I do hope that you enjoy our first iteration of the Michael Hoppen Gallery Viewing Room. Please send us feedback as we can only make it better and better if we know what you want to see.
I very much look forward to hearing from you.
YUSUKE YAMATANI (b. 1985)
Yusuke Yamatani (b. 1985) is a Japanese photographer whose diverse styles and photographic methodologies are united by their resonance with his dramatic personal life. Yamatani describes his photography as developing out of the shi-shashin (‘I-photography’) tradition of intimate, confessional art first pioneered by Araki, who coined the term almost half a century earlier. From documenting the underground scene in Osaka to his honeymoon voyage through the forests of Japan and lonely late night streets in suburban Tokyo, Yamatani has innovated visual languages to articulate each distinct phase of his life.
I first met Yamatani through a good friend of mine in Tokyo . I had looked at his work in his books several times, and it was clear that he had great talent. Unlike many young Japanese photographers today, Yamatani has found his own visual language, negating the need to fall back on the style and practice of the great masters of Japanese photography such as Fukase, Moriyama or Tomatsu. His unique working practice revolves around his desire to open up new avenues in photography. His live drumming-photography events have become legendary and we sincerely hope to show you this multi talented artist one day soon at the gallery in London. Here we show works from two distinct projects which I hope that you will enjoy.
“Oh I got a girl named Rama Lama, Rama Lama Ding Dong She’s everything to me
Rama Lama, Rama Lama Ding Dong
I’ll never set her free
For she’s mine, all mine”
Rama Lama Ding DongEditioned Silver Gelatin Prints (£800 - £1200 ex frame and tax)
Into The Light
In 2015, when Yamatani became a father for the first time, his photography recorded the commencement of this new phase of his life. Into the Light (2017) was inspired by lonely walks around his neighbourhood in the middle of the night, having been woken by the baby. A dawning domestic sensibility made Yamatani curious about the lives of others taking place in the dark homes around him, and he began to experiment with infrared photography and its penetrative connotations. Infrared film, originally produced for military purposes, is able to determine the difference between real foliage and camouflage. When it 'sees' the chlorophyll in real foliage it reproduces them in bright fuchsia pink, and when it detects artificial green (i.e. camouflage), it reproduces what it sees as a dark muddy green. Originally popularised in Japan by the notorious pictures of Yoshiyuki Kohei and Kagari Ikko, who use infrared lens to capture clandestine erotic encounters taking place in dark parks and packed commuter trains, Yamatani's has described how his photography reappropriates this technology to capture the tense and intimate solitude of these silent houses.
- Editioned lightboxes from the "Into The Light" series (£3,000 each, ex tax)
MINAYOSHI TAKADA (1899 - 1982)
Takada Minayoshi was one of Japanese photography's most prominent and experimental pioneers. Trained in the dominant Pictorialist style during the 1920s, Takada's work demonstrates an awareness of contemporary international currents, most obviously in his references to Surrealism and Constructivism.
The dreamlike juxtapositions and abstracted forms which dominate his pictures are animated by a bold graphic sensibility, which does not shy away from close cropping and dramatically inverted contrasts. The sophistication of his imaginative compositions is equalled by Takada's accomplished command of printing's technical aspects, often using double negatives and transparencies to register several prints within densely suggestive composite images.
As an active participant in regional camera club scene, Takada worked closely with Yamamoto Kansuke, who spoke French and regularly corresponded with contemporary Surrealists including Breton and Dali. Together, Takada and Yamamoto the VIVI group and the Mado ('window') society in their local Aichi Prefecture, and participated in numerous exhibitions across Japan.
Minayoshi TakadaSolarised Nude, c. 1950
Little is known of Takada's early years, but he was clearly an artist who enjoyed experimentation in his printmaking. Here we see an image which has involved the use of several negatives and an interesting range of chemical adjustments. As someone who has spent many years behind a camera and also in the darkroom myself, one of the things I enjoy doing is taking apart the process that a photographer employed when creating complex images. Photography is often cited as the perfect marriage between art and science and this unique vintage photograph is an exemplary product of that union.
- Michael Hoppen
Featured worksby Minayoshi Takada