Working across photography, sculpture, installation and most recently architecture, Sugimoto explores his concerns of time, memory and societal progress, tracing their origins, while bridging Eastern and Western ideologies.
The London gallery presents Sugimoto’s work for the first time in Snow White, a collection of photographic works from Sugimoto’s Theaters series (1978– ). The works in the exhibition focus on theaters in America and Europe, specifically Drive-in theaters, Abandoned theaters and most recently a series of Italian Opera theaters.
The Theaters series began as an experiment in which Sugimoto used a long exposure (dictated by the duration of each film) to capture the thousands of moving images on a single frame of film. The ‘afterimage’ of this long exposure is one of a gleaming, pure white screen, which remains in our visual memory beyond the physical experience of the actual film screening. With the exhibition Snow White in London and a publication of the same name, the artist will for the first time reveal the titles of many of the films screened and captured in the Theaters series.
The Abandoned Theaters depict the former grand halls of music and film now dilapidated, left to decay for decades. Reflecting the various economic downturns and changes in patterns of social entertainment, these images evoke a sense of Piranesi’s depictions of classical ruins, or in this case, are ruins made modern. Sugimoto began to photograph the most recent locations a number of Italian Opera Houses in 2014, which includes images of two of the earliest Renaissance theaters in Italy, the Palladio-designed Teatro Olimpico, Vincenza and the Teatro all’Antica, Sabbioneta. These classical Italian buildings are the architectural ancestors and inspiration for the style of the majority of the American Theaters which the artist originally began photographing.
The Paris gallery presents Surface Tension, a collection of images from the artist’s Seascapes series (1980– ). For Sugimoto, contemplating and photographing images of the seas of the world connects the present to the past and as well as the history of those seas to the land where he sets up his camera. The ever moving surface of the sea ensures that each work has it its own unrepeatable characteristics, communicated via weather, atmosphere and the illumination of the sun or the moon. The singular unifying element throughout the series is the perfectly balanced composition between the lower half weighted with the sea, and the airy upper half depicting the sky, each seascape divided dead centre by the horizon line. In Paris, the artist will present work from the 1990’s to his most recent works of the Tasman sea photographed in 2017.
In Paris, the artist will also show five works from his optical glass sculpture series known as the Five Elements. Taking the form from a traditional pagoda, this object comprises five shapes. Each shape has a representational meaning, referring to the Buddhist cosmological doctrine of Five Universals. The square form represents the earth, the globe signifies water, the pyramid is fire, the semi globe is air, and a teardrop form at the top represents emptiness. Each work has a single seascape embedded in the glass globe. In the downstairs vaulted gallery stands one of the Five Elements sculptures across from a photograph of Kegon Falls, Japan, a popular tourist destination and attraction because of its magnificent waterfall.