Born in Tokyo in 1929, Masaaki Yamada holds a unique position in the history of Japanese Modern Art for his philosophical approach towards abstract painting. Yamada began his career as a self-taught artist amidst the chaos of the postwar society. He left some 5,000 paintings in his lifetime, which are divided into three groups: Still-Life (1948-55), Work (1956-95), and Color (1997-2010).
Starting from his first series Still-Life and gradually disassembling the forms of the still life to its basic components of lines, shapes and colors, Yamada’s work developed in the mid-1950s into his second and most influential series: Work. Featuring motifs such as stripes, crosses and grids, Work demonstrated Yamada’s persistent and experimental perception of composition and color theories. His last period: Color undertook a constant pursuit of the flatness of painting, filling the entire plane with a single shade of color.
During his life time, Yamada held annual solo exhibitions in Tokyo from 1969 to 1997, and also participated in a number of epoch-making museum exhibitions both at home and abroad, including the Biennale de São Paulo held in 1987. In the years following his death in 2010, his fame continued to rise, and his first large scale retrospectives were held in 2016 at The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo and Kyoto.