Paris-based photographer Yuji Ono is known for his conceptual approach to photography, in which he considers light as both medium and subject. Often working with historical paintings, as well as chandeliers in museums, palaces, and churches across Europe, Ono experiments with the properties of light under different conditions.Read More
Yuji Ono studied photography at the Osaka University of Arts in the 1980s, after which he moved to Paris. In the city, he visited museums and galleries to study historical paintings and photographs, during which he became interested in painting as a photographic subject. Ono's earlier works involved photographing the main altars of Parisian churches, paying attention to their two-dimensional, decorative paintings as well as their three-dimensional, sculptural aspects.
Ono's longstanding interest in light results from one of his museum visits, when he witnessed the moment a painting was illuminated by sunlight flooding through an opened door. In his 'Tableaux' series, ongoing since 1995, Ono photographs paintings from the Renaissance to the Impressionist periods under natural light, which he then meticulously prints in grayscale in his studio.
In a 2018 interview with ShugoArts, Ono explained that he works with paintings leading up to Impressionism because of the historical use of varnish. It is the texture of the varnish that is made evident in Ono's 'Tableaux' works, which includes his photograph of the 17th-century painting Ermite Lisant, while the painted image itself is reduced to amorphous clouds of gray and black.
Yuji Ono expanded his study of light in 'Luminescence', a series of photographs depicting chandeliers that hang in the Palace of Versailles, Chantilly Castle, and the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. Unlike 'Tableaux', the works in 'Luminescence' were photographed under artificial light. Set against black backgrounds, Ono reduces the chandeliers to silhouettes of light, emphasising its physicality.
Yuji Ono's solo exhibitions include Luminescence, ShugoArts, Tokyo (2021); Vice Versa — Les Tableaux, ShugoArts, Tokyo (2018); Yuji Ono: Luminescence, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris (2006); Yuji Ono: Les Tableaux, Les Rencontres de la photographie d'Arles, France (2005); and Luminescence, Zeit Foto Salon, Tokyo (2004).
Ono's work has also been featured in group exhibitions internationally, including Light and Shadow: First There Was Light, Tokyo Photographic Art Museum (2006); Ishihara Collection, Shanghai Museum (2005); Mask of Japan - Japanese Contemporary Photography, Guangdong Museum (2004); and Mask of Japan, Aura Gallery, Shanghai (2003).
In 2010, Ono was commissioned by Fondation Cartier, Paris, to photograph the exhibition Vodun, African Voodoo. The resulting images, which numbered 200 in total, show Voodoo sculptures from across Benin, Togo, and Nigeria set against the black backgrounds characteristic of Ono's work.
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021
Ono, who has been based in Paris since the 1980s, has established an extensive knowledge in the styles and historical backgrounds of a wide range of art history through his numerous visits to various museums and buildings thanks to his prolonged stay abroad. While comparing the art and photography of all times and places, Ono continues to create...