Kumi Yamashita’s Shadow Art Creates Stories from Shadows

Kumi Yamashita - Installation

Kumi Yamashita - Installation

Kumi Yamashita - Installation

Kumi Yamashita - Installation

Kumi Yamashita’s work is nothing without light and shadow. By subtly manipulating materials such as paper, fabric and wood, she uses strategic lighting to create shadow art installations. Yamashita focuses on the human figure and proves that an attention to detail make all the difference. She makes tiny cuts to paper and carefully drapes fabric. Coupled with a careful consideration of folding and lighting, these pieces are a feat of engineering. A minimal amount of material creates a narrative with a range of emotions. Yamashita writes about her work, stating:

I sculpt using light and shadow. I construct single or multiple objects and place them in relation to a single light source. The complete artwork is therefore comprised of both the material (the solid objects) and the immaterial (the light or shadow).

Veil (directly above) is one of Yamashita’s newest works. This piece uses fabric, light and shadow to depict a female figure laying down. Looking at it, with the spotlight shines perfectly on a sheet of fabric. It feels like we’re looking at a ghost, but it isn’t unnerving or spooky. Instead, it feels sensual, like we are the voyeur to a private time; It’s a memory. Environment, in this case, is also important to the piece. Installed on a pedestal and devoid of adjacent works, it is isolated, making it feel even more like a moment in time.

Yamashita is an engineer, creating incredible forms that are realistically rendered. They aren’t blocky or awkwardly composed; her silhouettes are very fluid. At different vantage points, you wouldn’t think that a seated figure came from a sheet of paper. But once you do, it instantly elevates her shadows. The amount of craft put in each installation is inspired.

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