Apr 18, 2024 - Things to Do

Art Snack: Yamamoto Masao's black cat

black cat's face with white whiskers

"La Vie Simple" is on view at PDX Contemporary Art through April 27. Photo: Yamamoto Masao

It's a delight to see Yamamoto Masao take on a black cat in his show "Animal Spirit" at PDX Contemporary Art.

Zoom in: The cat's face gives little light back, except for its oval eyes and thickly sprouting whiskers.

  • White head hairs balance the composition, and one breaks the frame.
  • Everything beyond the cat's dark face is obscure.

Flashback: The artist has photographed a backlit bonsai tree so it looks like a lung X-ray and two white birds whose long necks form a perfect U-bend.

Masao's photos have long appealed to Western eyes for being typically Japanese: black and white, minimalist and open to nature.

  • He prints them himself, experimenting with dyes and paper textures, so they feel like tiny paintings.
  • They are like visual haikus, the refined squares and rectangles of traditional film that flourish on Instagram.

If you go: "Animal Spirit" is at PDX Contemporary Art through April 27.

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