Hiroshi Sugimoto (b. 1948, Tokyo, Japan) has defined what it means to be a multi-disciplined contemporary artist, blurring the lines between photography, painting, installation, and most recently, architecture. His iconic photographs have bridged Eastern and Western ideologies, tracing the origins of time and societal progress along the way. Preserving and picturing memory and time is a central theme of Sugimoto’s photography, including the ongoing series Dioramas (1976– ), Theaters (1978– ), and Seascapes (1980– ). His work is held in numerous public collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; The National Gallery, London; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Smithsonian Institute of Art, Washington, D.C., and Tate, London, among others.
New York—Pace Gallery is pleased to announce Sea of Buddha, an exhibition featuring photographs from Hiroshi Sugimoto’s series of the same title and a related film work.
The Sea of Buddha series, conceived in 1988 and realized in 1995, explores Sugimoto’s overarching interest in light, history and time—which the artist refers to as “one of the most abstract concepts human beings have created.” Conceptually related to the ongoing photographic series that occupy his practice, the forty-eight black-and-white images that make up Sea of Buddha use the same formal language of precise compositional balance and size to achieve an apparent uniformity between each photograph. For the exhibition, thirty-six photographs from the series will be installed. Five works from Sugimoto’s iconic Seascapes series (1980–), in which the horizon divides sea and sky in varying locations and atmospheric conditions, will also be included.
For Sea of Buddha, Sugimoto deviated from his usual process of continuously working on and expanding a series over years or decades, instead finalizing a closed set of images over the course of ten days. The collection of photographs features images of the one thousand statues installed in Kyoto’s Sanjῡsangen-dō, or Hall of Thirty-Three Bays, a temple dating to 1266 AD. Through visual repetition, Sugimoto refers to the religious and historical concepts that guided the original creation of the statues that are his subject for the series. Simulating the reproductions of the one-thousand-armed bodhisattva of compassion known as Senju Kannon, Sugimoto’s images signify the Buddhist practice of replicating manifestations of a deity in order to achieve spiritual merit. The compositional structure of the photographs and the effects of light enhance the repetitive nature of the unframed images, creating the impression of a limitless expa nse—or sea—of figures in space.
The installation of photographs will be accompanied by Accelerated Buddha (1997)—the artist’s first video work—which expands his investigations of time. In this three-channel video, Sugimoto returns to his Sea of Buddha series with a progression of images that transition into one another with increasing speed, confronting the perceptual experiences of time.
Hiroshi Sugimoto (b. 1948, Tokyo) received a BA from St. Paul’s University in Tokyo (1970) and a BFA in photography from the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles (1972). Informed by aspects of Minimalism and Conceptual Art, Sugimoto’s work extends across a diverse array of subject matter, including museum dioramas, wax portraits, architecture and light. Over the course of his career, he has maintained a conceptual and philosophical approach to photography, engaging with the medium as a means to preserve memory and record the passage of time.
His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at international venues, including The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., (2015); The Getty Center, Los Angeles (2014); Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul (2013); Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2012); The National Museum of Art, Osaka (1989, 2007, 2009); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2005); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2000); and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1996). In February, Fundación MAPFRE, Barcelona, will host Hiroshi Sugimoto: Black Box, a retrospective exhibition that will travel to the Foundation’s Madrid location in June 2016.
Sugimoto’s Glass Tea House Mondrian, a site for traditional Japanese tea ceremony, was installed at Le Stanze del Vetro in Venice as part of the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. It was the first project outside of Japan to be completed by New Material Research Laboratory, the architecture firm founded by the artist in 2008. Sugimoto’s commitment to performance traditions can also be found in his involvement with Japanese noh theatre and banraku, a traditional form of puppet theatre. He has recently led the direction of Ningyo Joruri Bunraku’s production of Sugimoto Bunraku Sonezaki Shinju: The Love Suicides at Sonezaki, which was performed in Madrid, Rome and Paris in fall 2013 and in Tokyo and Osaka in March 2014.
His work is held in over forty public collections, among them the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée national d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The National Gallery, London; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Tate, London; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
In 2014, Sugimoto was the recipient of the Isamu Noguchi Award, New York. Other honors and distinctions include the Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the Ministry of Culture, Paris (2013); Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon from the Government of Japan (2010), and a Praemium Imperiale award from the Japan Art Association (2009).
This is the artist’s seventh major exhibition at the gallery since joining Pace in 2010.
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