“I find beauty juxtaposed with symbols of time terribly poignant. My ‘Goddess’ figures in iconic backgrounds create narratives of transience or vulnerability; in other images, I exaggerate elements to heighten drama, or pile detail upon detail to create a realism a viewer may question, yet accept.”
MICHAEL K. YAMAOKA is a Clio Advertising Award-winning international photographer and recipient of numerous photography awards from the prestigious Salmagundi Club in New York where he currently exhibits, who, before he turned to fine art photography, spent many years as a commercial photographer in Manhattan, shooting for many of the Fortune 500 companies.
Born and educated in Japan, he was the first Japanese student to receive a degree in photography from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. After locating to New York, his unique approach to advertising photography attracted a clientele that included such blue-chip companies as Pepsi-Cola, AT&T, Toshiba, General Electric, and Time-Life.
The death of his son in 1997 prompted a deep reevaluation of his creative life, and Mr. Yamaoka began to concentrate solely on his personal photography, publishing a book, Odyssey, A 35 Year Photographic Journey, and establishing a scholarship in his son’s memory. Shooting extensively worldwide, he continued to develop the themes of solitude, stillness, and singularities, in details that often emphasize the passage of time. His recent works include large-format prints featuring “Goddess” figures in locations around the world, executed in both conventional and new media.
Mr. Yamaoka has exhibited in critically acclaimed solo shows in New York at the New Art Center, the Atlantic Gallery, the German Consulate, the United Nations, and various other venues, and is an exhibiting member of the Salmagundi Club in New York and the Silvermine Artists Guild in Connecticut. He has been invited to mount international solo exhibitions in Tokyo, Kyoto, Nuremberg, and in fourteen cities in Bavaria, Germany, and has been featured in group shows in New York and London. Mr. Yamaoka’s work is included in private and corporate collections worldwide, and in 2008 he was honored when I.M. Pei requested a print for his personal collection.
This review was published by Circle Foundation for the Arts © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist