Friday, March 18, 2011

Arty Farty Friday ~ Surrealist Photographer Kansuke Yamamoto

With Japan foremost in our minds, prayers, and fervent hopes for some relief for the stricken, I searched for today's subject among their long tradition of artists of all types.

Birth dates for most of those wonderful Japanese painters from previous centuries aren't available, but I found an interesting subject in surrealist photographer Kansuke Yamamoto (30 March 1914-1987). He was a seminal experimental photographer, poet and member of the Japanese avant-garde, born in Nagoya, active in Japan's artistic circles from 1931 until 1987. A true hidden treasure in the world of photography.

Yamamoto’s highly aesthetic imagery can be seen as a Japanese interpretation of the language of European surrealism with many works in dialogue with artists such as Salvador Dali, Yves Tanguy, Joan Miro, Man Ray, Rene Magritte, and Jean Arp. Yamamoto published over a 40-year span in avant-garde journals with limited circulation in Japan. The strangeness and transgressive nature of his imagery was considered threatening, inviting persecution of the artist by the Tokko (Thought Police).

Information from

Natal chart set for 12 noon. Ascending sign and Moon degree will not be accurate.

To identify Kansuke Yamamoto's pull towards surrelaism the planet to watch is Uranus (eccentricity, the unexpected). In this photographer's natal chart Uranus is in the sign of its rulership, Aquarius, so it's presence is pure and unadulterated, one could say. In addition, here Uranus conjoins Jupiter, planet of excess and exaggeration. What better astrological representation of this art style could there be? Venus, planet of the arts is in Aries and in harmonious sextile to the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction. Yamamoto's pioneering Aries Sun is also significant in his drive to be among the first in his field to create something new.

His photographs are strange, but in them it's easy to detect themes from Magritte's paintings, Salvador Dali's or echoes of styles of other European surrealist painters.






Gian Paul said...

Nice and very unusual (Uranian) pictures. Thanks T. On top of your comment and astrological interpretation, I saw that he has Sun in Aries and Moon in Taurus. The 2 luminaries in the first fire and the first earth sign.

Looking at his face: pretty determined, essential guy, different from all Japanese I personally have seen (and there are many immigrated Japanese here in São Paulo).

PS. My thing with the first signs of each element being the more "primitive" or "primal" ones appears to receive some confirmation here.

This story goes as follows: If Aries bounces easily at anything, even easily knocks his head, Leo will use his head to "shine even more. Leos are often bald, thus even "shining with their top of the head..." Sagittarius will not easily bounce into things, he prefers "shooting at a distance" (using the arc as he is often pictured with).

Earth signs: It's about earthy things, e.g. food: Venus governing Taurus makes that many Taurus sun-signs (or Ascendants) are rather on the heavy side. Not the so much the case with the Virgos, at least the ones I know. And Capricorn, very choosy and picking parcimoniously, seldom are on the "fat side".

Air signs: Gemini, the "legendery babblers", Libra, always "nice and diplomatic, light", Aquarius e.g. you, by now already famous Twilight, original, non-conformis,t but original thinkers.

Water signs: Cancer, sentimental, moody like the Moon. Scorpio, deep, often unsoundable. Pisces, tend to have more empathy than others. Influencable, subtil.

Note that Uranus,ruling the most evolved of the air signs, is considered to be the supervibration of Mercury. For water, Neptune, governing Pisces, is the supervibe of Lua.

Could not find a similar pattern for fire and earth signs, unless Jupiter is a level above Mars and Saturn one above Venus. But that may be stretching things...

Wisewebwoman said...

A haunting quality to his work, T. Really like it. thanks!

Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~~~ I haven't personally known any Japanese people. Back in the mid-80s my late partner and I spent 3 weeks in Hawaii (Honolulu) where we encountered lots of inhabitants who were of Japanese origin. They seemed always to have a quiet calmness about them.

I like your theory about the "evolution" of the element groups of signs. It seems to provide a good fit. (Famous? Moi? Not in this lifetime, GP)

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Yes. Last evening as I watched some news coverage of unfolding events in Japan I noticed the shapes of some structures at the nuclear power stations - the rounded toppped cylindrical structures - the shape of them reminded me eerily of the photograph titled "Reminiscence" in this post.

R J Adams said...

And all done without the benefits of 'photoshop'.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~~ Yes - an important point to bear in mind!

Paul Biddle Photographer said...

Thank you so much for showing this photographers works - I have never seen them before nor heard of him.A fascinating post.

Twilight said...

Paul biddle ~~~ Hi there - thank you for stopping by and for commenting. I'm happy to know that you enjoyed the post. :-)