Polka Galerie presents “Cibachromes”, an exhibition bringing together a selection of color prints by the Japanese photographic master of the landscape Toshio Shibata. For this unique exhibition, the artist has decided, for the first time, to create a series of Cibachrome prints in collaboration with Polka Galerie and Cadre en Seine Choi Photo Laboratory. This analog photographic process, which functions through a dye destruction positive-to-positive technique, has played a significant role in the history of photography. It has mesmerized photographers with its stability of pigments, tonalities, densities and consistency in color, as well as its purity of whites and sublime intensity of dyes.
For Toshio Shibata, these prints are illuminated from within. Quite literally, the photographs’ light, selected specifically for this unique series, comes from the photographic paper itself. Gazing across the print’s surface, the spectator’s eye is lost in the intensity and complexity of chromatic detail.
After Ilford’s bankruptcy, few photographic laboratories still capable of realizing these invaluable prints remained. Although they continue offering their services to photographers, galleries and collectors, materials are dwindling fast and will soon run out completely. The Cadre en Seine Choi Laboratory in Aubervilliers continues to print, in increasingly selective supply, what will come to be known as the last generation of contemporary Cibachromes.
Toshio Shibata’s Japan is a secret and monumental world. The manmade structures he so meticulously photographs are not abandoned. They are silent, stirring giants. Through Shiabata’s lens, buildings, architecture, concrete and metal come to life, transforming into lifelike beings rooted in the natural landscape as the photographer quietly disappears behind his titanic subjects.
In order to capture the essence of the landscape, he erases any traces of his interference within the frame. Thus Shibata establishes an interdependence with the subject as a sort of opposed dialogue between movement and contemplation, between perception and intuition, between the gaze and the subject. The Cibachrome process only amplifies the presence of these unique and solitary characters in the prints. They call the viewer in to approach and to traverse them.
The prints exhibited in “Cibachromes” are numbered, limited editions of three copies, with the most iconic photographs produced as unique pieces. They have all been printed specifically for the occasion, in anticipation of Cadre en Seine Choi Laboratory’s fast approaching and definite depletion of Ilford supplies.
The exhibition presented by Polka between November 9th 2018 and January 12th 2019 provides a unique, and likely one of the last opportunities to witness a disappearing era of photography, an era of the triumph of color.