Hong Kong-based artist Yan Kallen received the Grand Prix last year at the 2016 KYOTOGRAPHIE KG+ AWARD for his solo exhibition No coming / No going (Kaho Gallery). His work Rhythm of Nature (2014–2016) — a series of still life photographs of brooms against black backgrounds—conveys Yan’s appreciation for artisanal handcrafting and human life led in communion with nature.

The series of works that Yan presents in this year’s exhibition, symbolized by the elements of light and darkness, illuminates the recurrence, continuity and circulation of the two opposing worlds that dwell in all things. In December 2016, Yan immerged himself in Kyoto over a period of four months, spending time with artisans in various fields of traditional crafts. Stories of family, the interaction between people and nature, societal tension, and the circulating passage of time that Yan unearthed through his conversations with artisans are all explored in the context of “light and darkness” as a series of photographic works and installations.

A highlight of the exhibition is Yan’s camera obscura designed in collaboration with artisans of tea ceremony kettles, sacred mirrors housed in shrines and temples, and wooden Shinto joinery. By drawing light through a small hole into a darkened room, it projects there an image of the scene outside. Recognized as the origin of the camera, the camera obscura is a reminder that photography comes into existence through light penetrating darkness. Yan’s version is composed of a mirror that converts negative images into positive, and a wooden frame of Japanese cypress with beautiful growth rings formed by shifting temperatures across winter and summer. These dualities that reside in its materials make this collaborative work the representative symbol of the series.

During his artist’s residence in Kyoto, Yan often explored the Mumeisha, which became the venue for this exhibition. The building’s memories, accumulated over 120 years by the original occupants of the machiya — a traditional Kyoto-style house—and their day-to-day ordinary prayers, provide a perfect setting of “place” for Yan’s collaborative works.

Yan Kallen
Born in Hong Kong in 1981, Yan is an artist based in Hong Kong. Yan attended Central Saint Martins College in London and Parsons School of Design in New York, and began his career art directing books and publications in New York and Amsterdam. He is currently dedicated to designing postage stamps for the Hong Kong Post Office, as well as creating personal artworks. Working primarily with photography, sculptures, and video, Yan finds inspiration from traditional Eastern philosophical ideas and is known for his works on the relationship between human and nature. In 2016, Yan received the KYOTOGRAPHIE International Photography Festival KG+AWARD, and was previously shortlisted for the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Awards by Hong Kong Museum of Art in 2012.

ヤン・カレン「ノコ I / 牧神祭具店 / 京都」2017年
Yan Kallen, Wood Saw I, Maki Shinto Ritual Articles, Kyoto, 2017
© Yan Kallen

ヤン・カレン「土と水 II / 亀岡」2017年
Yan Kallen, Earth and Water II, Kameoka, 2017
© Yan Kallen

ヤン・カレン「ふしあげ / 西村圭功漆工房 / 京都」2017年
Yan Kallen, Crane feather, Keikou Nishimura Lacquer Studio, Kyoto, 2017
© Yan Kallen


363 Rokkaku-cho, Rokkaku-sagaru, Shinmachi-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, 604-8212
Subway Karasuma Line “Shijo” station 8 min on foot from exit 22・24

CLOSED:Wednesday (except 5/3)

Entrance Fee:¥600 / Student ¥400

[Related program]

Kyoto Artisan’s in Conversation: Between the Light and Darkness
4/29 Sat. 17:00-18:00 >Detail

© 2014 Naoyuki Ogino

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

[Video Archive]

Kyoto Artisan’s in Conversation: Between the Light and Darkness
4/29 Sat. 17:00-18:00