Hiroshi Sugimoto. Black Box at Fundación MAPFRE, Barcelona
Curated by Philip Larratt-Smith, Hiroshi Sugimoto. Black Box explores the trajectory of the artist’s career through 41 large-format works from five of his best-known photograhic series: Dioramas (1976–2012); Theaters (1976–present); Seascapes (1980–present); Portraits (1994–99); and Lightning Fields (2006–present). Sugimoto (b. Tokyo, 1948) is widely regarded as one of the most important photographers of the postwar era.
He has reinterpreted the classical photographic tradition, imparting a conceptual edge to such genres as the still life, abstraction, portraiture, and nature photography. Eschewing digital technology in favour of traditional methods, Sugimoto is a master craftsman, and his photographic prints are as remarkable for their extreme perfection and visual beauty as for their conceptual and philosophical implications. The pristine clarity and rich range of tonalities in his dioramas of prehistoric life, or his wax figures of historical personalities such as Henry VIII and Fidel Castro, achieve an uncanny verisimilitude. Yet his technical virtuosity also enables him to capture hidden realities that are invisible to the human eye—to show us things we otherwise wouldn’t perceive. By playing on the slippage between the image the eye sees and the concept the mind grasps, he reveals the blind spots in our experience of the world. Hence the long exposure of his theatres functions to achieve a paradoxical goal—to arrest, or expose, the passage of time. Taken as a whole, his work constitutes a profound meditation on the nature of perception, illusion, representation, life, and death.
An in-depth publication will accompany Hiroshi Sugimoto. Black Box, featuring full reproductions of the exhibition checklist, the curator’s essay “Death of a Naturalist,” an extended interview with the artist, and an appreciation by Iran do Espírito Santo. The catalogue is available in Catalán, Spanish, and English editions, the latter published jointly with Aperture.
Hiroshi Sugimoto. Black Box will travel to Fundación MAPFRE Madrid (23 June – 24 September, 2016).
Fundación MAPFRE (Casa Garriga i Nogués Exhibition Hall) – Diputació, 250 08007 Barcelona – Spain
19 February – 8 May, 2016