Like we cannot imagine food without salt, Motoi Yamamoto cannot think art without salt! Foxed? Well, this Japanese artist uses this white mineral as an artistic material. And he has been at it for the past quarter-century.
But, why salt? Salt has been traditionally linked with people’s lives in Japan, especially those from the east and west of the country. Although primarily used in customs and funerals, it has an even greater significance for Yamamoto. He uses salt art as a way to remember his sister, who died at an early age.
Yamamoto states on motoi-works.com, “I started using salt because it has the meaning of purification, but I was strongly attracted to the whiteness, which has slight transparency. Salt is a colorless and transparent cube, a crystal. The moist and gentle color wrapped my heart, which I felt lost (sic). Also, the salt that is part of the work may have supported our lives in the past. From around that time, I began to feel that salt contained a ‘memory of life’.”
Some of Yamamoto’s salt creations, such as labyrinths, resemble the branching paths of memory. Says he, “I want to feel the core of my memories deep inside me again.” His art tool comprises a small bottle-like pen, which is filled with salt with which his deft hands form incredible salt artworks. And the variety of his patterns is simply mind-boggling. This is by no means an easy job, as he spends hours sitting on the floor and drawing his patterns.
Yamamoto has also initiated a ‘Return to the Sea’ project, where the salt used in his works is returned to the sea with the help of viewers on the last day of the exhibition so that it goes into the natural cycle again.