"In Latin, mater means mother/source, Mäter derives from the Indo-European root word mehter (mother), and has the same etymology as the English word mother. The original meaning of the Latin word materia is "tree trunk." The trunk is thought to be the "womb" of life, and materia originates from the word mater."

Receiving high acclaim both within Japan and overseas, Yoshihiko Ueda has continued to present work on the frontline throughout his career of 40 years. His oeuvre profoundly reflects his consistent perspective, thoughts, and personality as a photographer.

Portraits, forests, family, rivers, buildings, human remains from the Jomon period, portraits of "paper," apple trees...

Expressing a desire to "discover how the world came to be" and to "affirm the transience that permeates the impermanence within which we live," Ueda's photographs are a manifestation of many years of meticulously developing his concepts and exploring various motifs.

The manner by which he transcends established notions and preconceptions to capture the intrinsic existence of "life," as well as the vivid presence of his subjects, and the overlapping layers of time, brings about an air of multifacetedness to his work in ways reminiscent of the matière of a painting.

Such expression is indeed made possible through Ueda's gentle, yet powerfully penetrating gaze that respects and appreciates "life."

In the works, a waterfall, valley, and a woman's body are photographed under the light of the moon at night, and presented in pairs.

Here, water, human body, mother, earth, moon, as forces that have continued to generate life since ancient times, reflect the fact that nature and the female body are equal and closely connected. The faint reflection of the water and the smoothness of the skin of the woman's body share a curious commonality that enables one to sense the luster, presence, and even the breath of nature.

Ueda's distinct and profound gaze that treats nature, people, and all things as equal, and expresses their fundamental life existence in his work, inform viewers of a certain truth. That is, while we generally understand "water," "waterfall" and "human body" symbolically as being different things, in fact they are all connected as life on earth, and are woven together like one large tapestry.

This work is an extension of his previous endeavors in exploring the origins of life that begins with "Quinault" -shot in the 1990s in a sacred Native American Indian forest, followed by his 2011 series "Materia" consisting of photographs of the native forests of Yakushima, and "Apple Tree" shot in 2017.

Ueda regards the earth, a planet that miraculously possesses the power to create life, as one large living organism, and thus perceives "water and rocks" to be fragments of it, as well as women who too have the ability to give birth to life. Photographing under the "moonlight" that illuminates only the writhing of life amidst the dark of the night while letting all else sink into the darkness, was in itself a journey of sorts to infer the origin of life that is shrouded in mystery.

(Quoted from the text for the exhibition "Māter" at TOMIO KOYAMA GALLERY ROPPONGI)

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