Manabu Yamanaka’s six series of photographs, Arakan, Fujohkan, Gyahtei, Dohshi, Jyoudo, and Wukong Mang Mang Ran are representing Yamanaka’s photographic work over the past thirty years. The photographs show compelling oversize, black and white images of people and animals that reflect Yamanaka’s personal faith in Buddhism. The images reference Buddhist beliefs in the inherent beauty of life and its transient nature. In a photo world, where digital manipulation is so widespread, especially when images challenge conventional ideas of representation, it is noteworthy that none of Yamanaka’s photographs are manipulated in any way despite any expectations to the contrary. All of his works are totally faithful to the physical identity of the subject matter.
Artist Statement: My Buddhist beliefs began during my childhood in the Osaka suburb of Amagasaki, a deeply Buddhist neighborhood inhabited by large numbers of factory laborers. There, Buddhist festivals served as a community focal point and helped to strengthen the faith of local residents. When I was small, I was injured in a serious traffic accident, which put me in the hospital, wavering between life and death for 10 days. But fortunately, quite miraculously, I survived. Meanwhile, I found that my beloved pet dog had died in my stead. So, after having received a second lease on life, I felt myself increasingly drawn to Buddhism, and turned my energies to the creation of Buddhist-influenced art through the medium of photography. Therefore I decided to pursue my own style. In Tokyo in 1989, I had my first art exhibition, featuring my “Arakan” series.
Manabu Yamanaka was born in 1959 in Hyogo, Japan, and currently is
based in Tokyo. Yamanaka’s work has been collected by private and public art institutions and has been exhibited regularly in international exhibitions and museums in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Spain, Chile, Japan and USA. The Gyathei series received worldwide television coverage by CNN when exhibited for the first time at Stux.