There are almost no people in Hiroshi Masaki’s black-and-white photographs of his hometown. An exhibition of silver prints selected from his book, “Uwajima: A Private Landscape,” can be seen at Ars Libri, in a show mounted by Robert Klein Gallery. Forty years had gone by since the artist left Uwajima, a small city near Japan’s southeast coast, when he returned to photograph it in 2008. “I decided to go back, abandon any preconceptions I had,” he writes in the book’s afterward, “and re-examine my birthplace.”
It’s hard to imagine letting go all presumptions about your hometown; that would be like looking at your parents without bias. One way for an artist to do it, though, would be to approach the old familiar places with an eye toward form rather than narrative. And form is easier to see without the distraction of figures hanging about.