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Continue creating artwork not to forget.

I keep creating so that I will not forget memories of my family.

In 1994, my 24-year-old sister died of a brain tumor, and my wife, who had been by my side for 25 years, died of breast cancer in 2016. There is shock and sadness when something important that should still exist disappears from right in front of you. No matter how much you want to be reunited, this is a reality that never will come true. I have faced this conflict and given it shape.

Many of my works are installations of huge patterns drawn with salt. By sitting on the floor and spending long hours drawing, perhaps I am trying to retain memories that fade with time. I create works to ward against the self-defense instinct of oblivion, looking for a convincing form of acceptance to come to terms with the parting of ways.

「Salt」 - Memory of life.

Salt has always been deeply linked to people’s lives in the East and West. In Japan, it is an indispensable substance for customs such as funerals.

I have thought about and engaged with people’s deaths and how they relate to society. Initially, I addressed various themes such as sutras and end-of-life care using a wide range of materials, but when I took an interest in funerals, the material I chose was salt.

I started using salt because it represents purification and cleansing, but I was also strongly attracted to the whiteness, with its slightly transparent quality. Salt is a colorless and transparent cube, a crystal. This smooth, gentle color enveloped my heart in an embrace as it was wracked with feelings of loss.

Moreover, the salt that forms an element of my works may have once supported our lives in the past. When I started embracing these kinds of thoughts, I began to feel that salt contained a “memory of life.”
It’s been a quarter of a century since I started using salt, but it still evokes a special feeling for me.

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The undertaking of returning the salt used in the work to the sea involves receiving help from everyone with whom the purpose of the project resonates. The people who gather on the last day of the exhibition destroy the work, collect the salt, and return it to the sea. Though it may just be a mere moment in the long course of history, the intent here is to return the salt used as a part of the work to the natural cycle once more.

Thousands of people have participated in this project, which started in 2006, helping to return salt to seas around the world.

“Please return this salt to the sea. It can be a nearby sea, an embankment you pass, or a beach you visit on a trip. The shape of the work disappears. However, this salt will spread throughout the sea and support the lives of various creatures. Perhaps it will find its way into our mouths once again. Of course, nothing would give me more pleasure than reuniting with this salt by way of using it in a new work.”


Yamamoto Motoi

Born in Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture in 1966. Graduated from Kanazawa College of Art in 1995. Currently living in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture.
I create installations using salt to evoke cleansing and purification. It takes me anywhere from a few days to multiple weeks to draw these huge patterns on the floor by myself. Furthermore, on the last day of an exhibition, I work together with the viewers to destroy the work and return the salt to the sea.
I also produce detailed acrylic and pencil works. In recent years, I have worked very actively on collaborations with companies.
I have presented his works in numerous locations both at home and abroad, including at the MoMA P.S.1 Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Hermitage State Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Hakone Open-Air Museum, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa, Setouchi Triennale, and via a traveling solo exhibition in the United States.

Brief history

1966 Born in Onomichi, Hiroshima
1995 BFA in Painting at Kanazawa College of Art
2003 Received Grant from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Inc.
2010 Received Grant from Voyager + AIT Artist Support Program
Lives and works in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan


“Shrouded in Time“, Izura Institute of Art & Culture, Ibaraki University / Ibaraki
“Staying in Time“, YUKIKOMIZUTANI/ Tokyo
“Shrouded in Time“, Former Morikawa Residence / Takehara, Hiroshima
“Staying in Time“, PLACE / Portland, Oregon
“STRAIT“, galleria PONTE / Kanazawa, Japan
“LABYRINTH -WHITE DIARY-“, eN-arts / Kyoto, Japan
“Sakura Shibefuru -Falling cherry petals-“, Setouchi City Art Museum / Okayama, Japan
“Floating Garden” Ierimonti Gallery / New York, USA
“Return to the Origin” Pola Museum Annex / Tokyo, Japan
“Return to the Sea” Waber State University / Ogden, USA
“Return to the Sea” Westminster College / SaltLake City, USA
“Floating Garden” La Galerie Particulière / Paris, France
“Floating Garden” Mikiko Sato Gallery / Hamburg, Germany
“Floating Garden” Ernst Barlach Haus / Hamburg, Germany
“Return to the Sea” Monterey Museum of Art / Monterey, USA
“Returnto the Sea” The Mint Museum / Charlotte, USA
“Floating Garden” Setouchi City Museum / Okayama, Japan
“Floating Garden” Inga Gallery / Tel Aviv, Israel
“Return to the Sea” Laband Art Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
“Return to the Sea” Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston, USA
“To the White Forest” Hakone Open-Air Museum / Kanagawa, Japan
“Floating Garden” eN-arts / Kyoto, Japan
“Labyrinth” Jesuitenkirch Sankt Peter / Cologne, Germany
“Floating Garden” Art-O-Rama / Marseille, France
“Sakura” Mikiko Sato Gallery / Hamburg, Germany
“Labyrinth” Grosse Bleichen Bilder / Hamburg, Germany
“Labyrinth” L MD Gallerie / Paris, France
“Reinigen” Mitsubishi Estate Art Gallery Artium/Fukuoka, Japan
“To the White in White” Nizayama Forest Art Museum/Toyama, Japan
“White Salt” Ierimonti Gallery/Milan, Italy
“Labyrinth” CAI, Contemporary Art International/Hamburg, Germany


“Sudhaus – Art with Salt and Water” / Sudhaus, Bad Ischl, Austria
“Shin Japanese Painthing : Revolutionary Nihonga” / Pola Museum of Art, Kanagawa, Japan
“Oku-Noto Triennale 2023” / Ishikawa, Japan
“Arts and Crafts that Brighten Spring” / Kanazawa Yasue Gold Leaf Museum, Ishikawa, Japan
“Rethinking the Japanese Tea Ceremony” / Kitaro Nishida Museum of Philosophy, Japan
“WALL ART PROJECT 2045 NINE HOPES” / Hirohima, Japan
“Oku-Noto Triennale 2020+” / Ishikawa, Japan
“Fantasy Galaxy –Motoi Yamamoto x Yoshimasa Tsuchiya”, The Ginza Space / Tokyo, Japan
“SHIKANSUIYO” -Art of the one hundred year forest, Meiji Shrine Museum / Tokyo, Japan
“Altering Home” -Culture City of East Asia 2018 Kanazawa -, Gencyan-House + 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa / Ishikawa, Japan
“Takamijima-Kyoto: On the Far Side of Daily Life”, Gallery Fleur, Kyoto Seika University / Kyoto, Japan
“A Coorridor of Art through the Mountain and Seas”/ Momo-shima island, Hiroshima, Japan
“UNIVERS’ sel” / Aigues-Mortes, France
“Roppongi Art Night 2016″, Roppongi Hills / Tokyo, Japan
“Setouchi Triennnale 2016″ / Takami-jima Island, Kagawa, Japan
“Biwako Biennnale 2016” / Omi-hachiman, Shiga, Japan
“Salone del Giappone”, Palazzo delle Stelline / Milan, Italy
“La Nuit Blanche”, Hôtel de Ville de Paris / Paris, France
“Mono no Aware -The Beauty of Things-”, The Hermitage State Museum / Saint Petersburg
“Narrow Road to the Interior”, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art / Arizona, U.S.A.
“Two Billion Light-Years of Solitude”, Kanazawa Art Gummi / Ishikawa
“Peace Meets Art!”, Hiroshima Prefectural Museum / Hiroshima, Japan
“The 6th Internationnal Contemporary Art Biennale of Melle”, France
“Fieldwork from Periphery”, Galerie Aube, Kyoto University of Art and Design / Kyoto, Japan
“Making Mends”, Bellevue Arts Museum / Bellevue, U.S.A.
“Reliefs”Fondation espace _ecureuilpour l’art contemporain / Toulouse, France
“City Net-Asia 2011”, Seoul Museum of Art / Seoul ,Korea
“MOT Annual 2010”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo / Tokyo, Japan
“Togo Murano x Motoi Yamamoto”Kanazawa Artgummi / Ishikawa, Japan
“Hundred Stories about Love”21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa/ Ishikawa, Japan
“Brack, Whrite and Gray”MA2 Gallery /Tokyo, Japan
“Text of Life”Ashikaga Museum of Art / Tochigi, Japan
“Artist in Residence, Onomichi”, Izumi’s House / Hiroshima, Japan
“C.A.R.K.2006”, Ishikawa International Salon / Ishikawa, Japan & Patras, Greece
“Force of Nature”, Van Every -Smith Gallery, Davidson College / North Carolina & Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston / South Carolina, U.S.A.
“hoch hinaus”, Kunstmuseum Thun / Thun, Switzerland
“Rising Sun, Melting Moon-Contemporary Art from Japan-“, The Israel Museum / Jerusalem, Israel
“Gwangju Biennale 2004 -EcoMetro Project-” / Gwangju, Korea
“The Encounters in the 21st Century : Polyphony -Emerging Resonances”, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa / Ishikawa, Japan
“The First Steps; Emerging Artist from Japan”, MoMA P.S.1 / New York, U.S.A.
“Mutated Zen: The Art of Surviving”, The Nunnury / London, UK
“respiri”, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele / Milan, Italy
“Installation” Garden of the Sculptures / Veracruz, Mexico


“Fantasy Galaxy –Motoi Yamamoto x Yoshimasa Tsuchiya”, The Ginza Space / Tokyo, Japan
“Press Releases for New Products of Royal Copenhagen”, 21_21 Design Sight / Tokyo, Japan
“OFX CM – Tracing Memory”, Kanazawa College of Art / Ishikawa, Japan
“Display for Ginza Komatsu” / Tokyo, Japan

東京 RETURN TO THE SEA : Motoi Yamamoto’s Art Documentary / Director’s cut  (YouTube / Japanese / English subtitles)
A short film produced by creativehybird & Mr+Positive (C)2019 / 2019 / 4′ 20″

I’d like to share with you a documentary video of a commercial I shot in Kanazawa in the summer of 2018. The commercial is for OFX, an international money transfer company based in Sydney. The director’s cut is 4 minutes and 20 seconds long and includes the production process, interviews, and the return of salt to the sea. Concept Interview (viemo / English)

「Solo Exhibition:RETURN TO THE SEA」
production:Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art / 2012 / 12′ 47″
Making of & Interview (YouTube / English)
「Solo Exhibition:RETURN TO THE SEA」
production:Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art / 2012 / 8′ 43″