A Salty Aftertaste
Motoi Yamamoto became fascinated with salt after his sister died of a brain tumor. Armed with a rubber squeeze bottle instead of a brush, he sat on the floor and pumped out a labyrinth that resembled the passageways of the brain. Perhaps it wasn’t his intention to uncover a new medium, but anyone who’s experienced his work can count the phases of his mourning, his unique trail of tears, in the grains of white marching across a space.
I first experienced this gifted Japanese artist several years ago, was lucky enough to be able to hang around the installation and watch him work. Sitting cross-legged on the floor. Bent over his creation. Pulling his vision out of the stark platform floor. It was muscular and angular, a proper maze of wonder.
This year, Yamamoto is back in Charleston creating an installation for the Spoleto Festival at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. What surprised me most, as I leaned over the railing of the viewing platform, is how lacy, how feminine, his work has become. His typhoon is a fanciful piece of tatting, strung across the floor; his movements are quick and certain – the same – but with a new, curly flourish. Perhaps the salt has softened his edges and cleansed him of his grief. Like the white-capped waves that accept the salt when he returns it to the sea.