The works of Hiroshi Sugimoto (b. Tokyo, 1948), one of the most important and fascinating artists active today in the field of photography, are presented in a major solo exhibition for the first time in Israel. Specially designed for this gallery space, the exhibition features 34 large-scale, blackand- white photographs from Sugimoto’s central series, dating from the inception of his career to the present: “Theaters,” “Dioramas,” “Portraits,” “Landscapes,” and “Architecture.” In these series, Sugimoto surprises his viewers with an in-depth investigation of the medium of photography and the possibilities embedded in it.
In an age of endless information and digital images that flood our consciousness, Sugimoto suggests a different rhythm and a different understanding of the photographic image. His photographs do not attempt to define the world, but rather to reveal it slowly through patient observation and intense perception. They invite the viewer to observe, study and enter a metaphoric terrain. Sugimoto photographs what cannot be represented visually: time, memory, dreams, or thoughts. The silence enveloping his photographs is an important element in his oeuvre.
Sugimoto’s images shape a comprehensive mode of seeing, which is not anchored in a specific time or place. They give rise to a suspended experience of space and time, and are usually the result of a long exposure: such is the case, for instance, in the series “Theaters,” where the gleaming, motionless screens were created by opening the shutter of the camera at the beginning of the film and leaving it open until the end of the projection. The series “Dioramas,” which was photographed in museums of natural history, features artificial scenes that document an increasingly extinct world, while appearing to portray real scenes captured in nature. In the series “Portraits,” Sugimoto photographed mannequins displayed in Madame Tussauds wax museums. The wax mannequins, which eternalize a single, frozen and embalmed moment in the life of the each figure, seem to come to life in his photographs. The series “Landscapes,” which was photographed in different places around the world, examines the relations between sky and sea, light and darkness, materiality and immateriality. The precise composition creates a unified horizon lines that connects the different photographs. The blurred structures in the series “Architecture” delineate the history of modernist architecture as each building is detached from its surroundings, detached and blurred as if in a dream. The soft, unfocused image distills the building to its essence, like an image dissolving in memory.
Despite the variety of subjects explored in his photographs, Sugimoto’s wide-ranging oeuvre is characterized by stylistic and conceptual consistency. His work revolves around questions concerning vision, faith and memory. By photographing places, objects and figures that function as cultural symbols, Sugimoto creates a vacillation between the temporal dimension of photography and the temporal dimension of the photographed images. Sugimoto’s camera does not capture reality, but rather produces it. His works conjure up the past while simultaneously providing a new and contemporary treatment of it, and create a dialogue between fiction and reality, concrete time and spiritual time.