Cityscape

3 Aug — 23 Sep 2017 at the Sakurado Fine Arts in Tokyo, Japan

12 AUGUST 2017
Cityscape, Exhibition view. Courtesy of Sakurado Fine Arts
Cityscape, Exhibition view. Courtesy of Sakurado Fine Arts

‘Cityscape’ presents works by two pioneering Japanese artists who capture the fragmented urban cityscape in photography and painting. Daido Moriyama wonders around the streets and takes snapshots with an instant camera, while Genichiro Inokuma reconstructs aerial views of cities in his abstract paintings. Selected works from Moriyama’s Tokyo based series ‘Passage’(1998-99) and ‘Bye-bye Polaroid’(2008) are juxtaposed with Inokuma’s paintings created during his residency in New York in the mid-1950s to '70s, presenting a graphic collaboration that reflects the two artists’ restless attempt to fossilize the alluring energy of city life from unique viewpoints.

Often described as ‘are (grainy/rough), bure (blurry), bokeh (out-of-focus)’, Moriyama’s distinctive style emerged in the late 1960s as a bold challenge to the predominant notions of ‘good photography’. His rebellious and edgy aesthetics was largely influenced by the American photographer William Klein, who fiercely captured the streets of New York in the 1950s.

At around the same time, Inokuma settled in the American capital in 1955 and spent two decades there creating a body of ambitious work. While joining the circles of Abstract Expressionists and Pop artists, Inokuma’s style shifted from figurative to abstract painting.

Moriyama’s quick shots are taken without looking in the viewfinder, and so the resulting images are largely dependent on intuition and immediacy. Similarly, Inokuma’s process of reducing the bustling three-dimensional topography to two-dimensional patterns entails speedy and improvisational brush strokes.

To draw a further comparison, Moriyama’s bold framing, extreme close-up, and stark contrast enhance the graphical quality of his images, in which subjects lose its specificity and become rather abstract. Such tendency is also hinted by Inokuma, whose background as a designer engaged him in the balance of color, shape, and weight in his compositions. Embracing automatism and improvisation, the two artists dynamically extract, flatten and record the visual complicity of metropolitan landscape.