Kentaro Yamada

2019, Jun

Everything Comes in Waves at Daiwa Foundation Japan House Gallery

The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation is delighted to introduce the London-based Japanese artist Kentaro Yamada to the UK public.

Yamada is interested in the encounter between material history and humankind’s subjectivity. As subjective and creative beings, humans have been intuitively trying to create meanings out of our natural surroundings for millions of years.

The artist creates installations that allow viewers to experience encounters of human life and material history. He reminds us that values born out of human history provide a partial view of the world, and seeks to place this story within a broader physical context, exploring different scales from the hand-held to the cosmic and from the instantaneous to the universal.

In this exhibition, he will be presenting a combination of new and older works, including light installations, dyeline prints that he created in 2011 after the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, and a series of sculptural objects in an installation that connects to a larger notion of cosmic space and time.

This exhibition is curated by Francesca von Zedtwitz-Arnim.

2018, Sep

Common Third

September 12 - 26 October.
Ceramic sculptures with olfactory elements at Copperfield Gallery.

2016, May

Sound of Scent - Listening to scent workshop at Victoria and Albert Museum

Kodo (Way of Fragrance) has a long history in Japan as a refined ceremony. When practicing Kodo, participants of the ceremony experience the fragrant wood or incense, heated by smouldering coal, making the them to give off fragrance in a subtle way.

In Kodo, it is said participants ‘listen’ to scent as opposed to smelling them. Kodo is a ceremony which creates state of calmness that cultivates right frame of mind. Participants also engage in activities such as guessing the same fragrant wood and they are encouraged to express their experience in words and often they link and recite literature, and poems are composed on the spot sometimes.

This workshop was inspired by the Japanese Kodo ceremony to to create a narrative with scents - linking smell, sound, story and experiences. Participants had a chance to listen to basic ingredients used in Kodo such as Oud (沈香), Sandalwood (白壇), Musk (麝香) Myrhh (没草), Frankincence (乳香), Patchouli (藿香).  Participants brought a story of their choice to the workshop and they were blinded folded and had to navigate through a variety of scents to ‘listen’ and decide how they would blend these ingredients and relate to their story.

Finally, each participant created a bespoke fragrance as a final outcome of the workshop to take home.

Photography by Jessica McCormick

2015, Jun

Inner Landscapes of Time

Inner Landscapes of Time was a group exhibition at Upstream Gallery Amsterdam. This exhibition brought together new and existing works by artists based in the UK including Salvatore Arancio, Michael Fullerton, Georgie Grace, Fabienne Hess, Lloyd Corporation, Kentaro Yamada.
Through a particular focus on time and imagination the works in the exhibition remediate found material and imagery, creating new narratives that slip between temporalities.
Curated by Frank Ammerlaan, Elsa Coustou and Ned McConnel

2015, Apr

Neandertal Perfume

Website -

Neandertal is a perfume inspired by the history of Neandertals, and the possibility of an alternative history, a history in which Neandertals continued to survive into the present day.

Neandertals lived in Europe 10 times longer than us, before mysteriously disappearing from earth around 30,000 years ago. We humans carry 1 - 4% or Neandertal DNA, as results of inter-breeding which happened during the 10,000 years we lived side by side with them.

Neandertals were sophisticated beings. They created abstract paintings, jewelleries, and painted over their face and body in the same way we apply makeups. They even made flute like musical instruments.
Their stone tool making techniques were very advanced and artistry was passed down for generations. If Neandertal had survived, they could have created extremely sophisticated civilisation differently shaped from ours.

The frangrance is designed for the Neandertals, and it will reflect their life in the past as well as their sophisticated future, which they could not see themselves. As we posses 1-4% Neandertal DNA within us, this perfume can also be applied to humans. Smell triggers memory above sight and hearing, and it can unlock doors to their shadows hidden within our DNA. Perfume is a highly aestheticised cultural product in the contemporary world, yet it is also one of the most basic and ancient aesthetic experiences that takes us back to our roots.

2014, May


b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d.b.d. was an installation originally created for MARS! Munich, and later shown at Tenderpixel in London.

Mousse Article -

2020, Mar

Nothing I, NothingII

250 million year old salt rock crystal, concrete replica with added table salt, resin cast, copper tubings (2014) Also a film for this work and screened at Van Horbourg, Zurich, CH.

2014, Jul

Vista Alegre Portugal

I took part in a residency programme at Vista Alegre Atlantis in Portugal and created a number of design objects in porcelain. They will be released public in 2015.

2013, Feb

Tacit Material Workshop

I collaborated with my father who is a traditional Japanese potter and created a workshop with local artists in Auckland.

2012, Nov

Vertical No.2 (Yohaku)

Aluminium structure, freezer mechanism

The structure attracts moisture in the air and freeze it in the space.

2012, Nov

Vertical (Manhattanhenge)

Perspex, wall, video

Once a year,path of the sun and east-west streets in Manhattan aligns abnd cause a phenomena called Manhattanhenge. In this wall, a thick acrylic perspec is inserted and image of this phenomena shows insde the material.

Special thanks to Adam Custins

2014, Mar

Copper glaze stoneware family

Special copper glaze with mixture of traditional Japanese natural ingredients.

more to come.

2014, Jun

...One morning he woke up in the cave and walked out full of energy. He walked to the mud pool and started to tussle with large chunk of clay. He looked at what he created and he liked it.

A large number of scientists gathered at a centre near the dessert and created what was thought to be never possible. Result was amazing. We created a beautiful large sculpture. A large spherical cloud, changing in colour and shape...

... An unknown craftsman finished making a bowl from a lump of clay. His skills are passed down for generations. The bowl fits perfectly to my hands intimately.

Matter has been morphing. Changing in shape, colour, sound, taste and smell.

We have urge to create realities, and to survive.

Written by Kentaro Yamada

2012, Sep


Circular LED light tube, circular fluorescent light tube, steel, concrete base,
Star Wars Original – Special Edition Laserdisc, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace DVD

160cm x 30cm x 40cm (Laserdisc)
130 x 12cm x 30cm (DVD)

2013, Feb

Tacit Material exhibition

In this exhibition, objects are embraced in terms of their bare material existence and the vast natural processes that come to shape them, whilst investigating in parallel how meaning and cultural value are created at the interface where natural materials and processes encounter human subjectivity.

I also involved my father who is a Japanese potter to take part in the exhibition. He performed and demostrated stoneware Chawan bowl making to the audience. The remains of this workshop were left in the exhibition becoming a part of the installation.

2012, Oct

Cell Studios Open Studio

2011, Jun

Everything Comes in Waves

Everything Comes in Waves
44 microcontroller controlled lightbulbs
exhibited with Tsunami No.1 - No.3

Exhibition: 9 June – 7 July 2011
La Scatola Gallery, London

Kentaro Yamada presents a large scale light installation, arranging a series of light bulbs connected to each other by black electrical cables on the gallery floor. The bulbs pulsate in intervals, translating a human breathing pattern known as Cheyne-Stokes respiration into a motion of light. This abnormal breathing pattern occurs before one’s death. It is characterised by a period where respiration is temporarily suspended, followed by a cycle of deeper and faster breaths. Each time the breath is suspended, it is uncertain whether the cycle will continue or the subject has died.

Light is used as a symbol for life to reflect on the artist’s personal experience. He took care of a beloved person in the last months before death and witnessed the gradual decay of the body. Despite the decay and change he was observing, he recalls that there was something essential about the person that remained constant. Yamada puts the spotlight on this extreme moment – a moment so tragic, yet full of new perception and heightened awareness that it could even be suitable for comedy or satire.

Tsunami No.1-3 (42” HD), follows a similar idea. Also in this work Yamada plays with the inherent beauty of a tragic event. Three dyline prints, an old analogue printing method originally utilised for architectual prints, are displayed in the gallery. A characteristic of these blue prints is that the coloring of the paper and the ink will slowly fade with the passage of time. The artist took screenshots from news broadcasts of the Tsunami catastrophe in Japan in March 2011. The prints show a giant wave running straight towards the coast. Freezing a single moment from the video, Yamada is putting the wave under the spotlight, highlighting its inherent beauty which is completely overwhelming and beyond human control. In this work artist points out the sublime quality of a tragic event once again.

Text by Francesca Zedtwitz-Arnim
Special Thanks to Hendrik Schneider (Silvasilva) for Tsunami prints

2011, Mar

Tsunami triptych

Triptych of Tsunami images as they are hitting the coast of Tohoku Japan. Images were taken from hi-res TV live broadcast. It is printed on 16 x 9 format typical of LCD TV.

Printed with dyline blue print technique, the colour of the print will fade over the years to more grey colour.

2011, May

Horozontal No.3

Perspex, video of sunset over south London.

Exhibited at - All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: From Interactive To Interpassive, Gallery Momo, Tokyo, Japan 2013

2009, Jan

Vertical No.1

Light installation controlled with microcontroller

Collection of Christchirch Art Gallery

2008, Mar

Eyedrops from Upstairs

Eye Drops from Upstairs

Software generated sound installation by 3 goldfish. Movement and speed of goldfish are translated to pitch and volume of instruments.

2009, Mar

Palarell Parking

The title of Kentaro Yamada’s video installation Palarell Parking [sic] might be slightly confusing at first sight. One might even be cheeky enough to correct the artist’s spelling. Far wrong! Everything in this work has been perfectly orchestrated and nothing is left to chance.

We see the artist entering a parking lot in his station wagon and parking it, after a moment of pause and focus, between a Jeep and a Rover. He performs the act of parking with simplicity and elegance, a perfectly calculated and effortlessly executed movement. The subtle skill and the fluidity of movement are captured in a swift change in perspective from a close up shot to an aerial viewpoint. After that Yamada gets of the car. Nothing else happens.

It is interesting to note that the artist has chosen the cinematic language of a TV commercial and its seductive aesthetics to depict the mundane activity of parking a car. An action that we execute every day even several times, so often that we probably do not pay attention to it anymore.

Shot with three high definition cameras connected to each other on a steel rod, the images of Palarell Parking are structured in three distinctive pieces. Seen in an exhibition space it could remind the viewer of the classic structure of a triptych – a in three panels divided art work that can usually be found behind the altar of Christian churches. It commonly represents saints and serves as a place of worship and votive offering.

Asked about his influences the artist often mentions that he grew up watching his mother preparing and performing the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, which she used to teach. The artist talks about asking his mother what this ceremony was all about as a child. Preparations were made, rules were followed and rituals performed. Every time he asked his mother about the meaning of these actions, she never gave him a straight answer.

The Japanese writer Kazuo Okakura writes in The Book of Tea: “It (the Tea ceremony) is essentially a worship of the imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life”. Perhaps the artist’s mother decided not to put these into words, as meanings are learned only through a long years practice and repeated rituals.

So maybe one possible way of approaching Palarell Parking is seeing in it the payment of tribute to a mundane activity. Something that we accomplish everyday, the ritual of daily life that we are inclined to overlook. Yamada highlights the intrinsic formal beauty and elegance of everyday activities with an aesthetic eloquence that belongs to western culture.

Text by Francesca Zedtwitz-Arnim, originally posted on
Crew: Ben Rood, Han Niu, Petrice Rhodes, Richard Harling, Rua Acorn, Sinclair Lonsdale, Tuataroa Rapana Neill

2005, Mar


Trying to launch all the seeds of a dandelion into the air with a single breath is a common experience most people can relate to, especially as a nostalgic activity recalled from childhood. Blowing dandelions is a simple action that occupies folklore in many cultures and is often a metaphor for ‘making a wish’.

Exhibited at Share Prize, Torino Italy 2007 (Curated by Bruce Sterling)