Masako Kano is a poetic visual artist using photographic images to transform the moment of the encounter with the subjects through lens into the infinity of time, where her subjects statically float in silence. Her works invite you to open the door to some mysterious inner world of figurative subject taken from the behind. As if she is saying her photographs could catch the “KI”- energy coming from humans, not the face with eyes opened to the camera… she doesn’t need to do so to capture the essence.
Born into a traditional Japanese family from Fukuoka, Kyushu, she completed B.A. in English Literature and Linguistics in Tokyo and earned M.A. degree in English and North American Literature, with the thesis on the influence of Noh drama on the work of W.B. Yeats, in New York, briefly encountered the late poet Richard Brautigan and his Montana Bloomsbury group in the summer of 1980 when she changed herself into a “deracinate” character after. In 1988, she moved to London where she worked as a capital market marketing director for 12 years for Swiss Bank Corporation and National Westminster Bank Plc.
“Late 80’s and early 90s the City still enjoyed economic bubble and I developed a taste of collecting the fine arts photography available in London market by myself and study at the night courses mainly thinking that helps to understand the history of photography in Europe.”
“Why I myself got into becoming an artist at the late stage of my life, is a mystery, but I am actually loving it.” Kano smiles. She then more seriously studied the technicality at International Centre of Photography, New York and analogue photography with Diego Ortiz Mugica in Buenos Aires. The series of Argentine women’s portraits were exhibited in Buenos Aires Design Centre after interviewing each lady for the work by the commission from Glaxo Smith Klein for celebrating International women’s Day in 2013, which led to the solo exhibition in 2014 with unique title images of her calligraphy fusions with nature photography at Killka Gallery, Mendoza, north province of Argentina.
Prof. Pirska Csuri wrote in catalogue: “…Kano ventures into the parallel worlds of images and words. In her photographic diptychs, her compelling, yet delicate portraits are accompanied by the energetic yet graceful gesturalism of her calligraphy. Deemed antagonistic and non-reconcilable in Western culture, the iconic verbal planes coexist in synergy in kanji ideograms… However, light of the singular feminine experience presented through the portraits, new life is breathed into the long inert ideograms: elementary and fundamental concepts (Hope, Love…) are redefined, transformed, reinvented.”
2015, She got first recognition in professional photographer’s world, winning first prize in the category of “Creative or Surreal” with her diptych Zen priest images in Stark Award, and started to exhibit in BA Photo, the biggest fair in Latin America presented by the galleries in Buenos Aires, and Este Arte, in Uruguay.
2017, For commemorating 10 years of world peace heritage of Genbaku Dome, Hiroshima she became an invited artist by UNESCO Villa Ocampo, UNESCO’s unique cultural heritage in Buenos Aires, to exhibit not only her photographs taken in Hiroshima during 2016, but her own installation of replica of Genbaku Dome under 4000 origami cranes hanged as if waving movement inspired by their migration from Siberia over Tibetan mountains. She also involved in producing the several documentaries with local movie directors which made her aware of different angle of shooting moving images and the importance of colour which affect to the viewer’s emotion, combined with music.
Armature pianist herself, Kano started to incorporate the staging in her recent photographic series, concentrates the one colour which provokes the memories of her own childhood as well as composing one keynote melody based on the songs she remembers from childhood, while taking photographs and editing them, she put that melody on to listen to. (For the future exhibition of the series, she wished to stream her music composition at the venue.) “Photography to individuals, was a very private thing before, and I myself feel the desires that those images in our memories to be really secret, away from others’ eyes.”
The series of “The story of red” was created in the time of her confinement at home in Buenos Aires for the global pandemic, unable to travel freely. Red is often used the colour of inner lingerie of traditional kimonos. Kano finds bravery of red colour and feminine sensualness hidden inside heavy woven cotton kimonos Samurai wives had worn. Those women (her ancestors) concealed their jealous for the more freer floating world concubines or higher-class court woman became her husband’s lovers. Red reflects a hot blood inside live female bodies whose confinement is culturally inside house. Thus, Kano‘s imaginations started to fly as usual in different directions… the bibs for the earth buddhas in the local temple near her parents’ house in Tokyo – those earth buddhas are supposed to protect aborted foetus; her daughter’s inner red child kimono lingerie is flying like Frida Kahlo’s Mexican dress in New York balcony, seeking for its identity, and even to her still life photography of just picked-up flower from the garden or seashell, proof of her trip to tropics , the subjects could not escape from Kano’s turning them into the incarnations of female psyche over strong myth of her country women, not of Greek goddesses, but of silent, resilient, unnamed women who carried out the duties of tradition for old warriors.