Hiroshi Sugimoto Plays with Reality

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 25, 2006 | Go to article overview

Hiroshi Sugimoto Plays with Reality


Byline: Joanna Shaw-Eagle, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

It's hard to fathom that celebrated Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto shot all of the 120 images in his eponymous show at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Though elegantly introspective, with a distinct Japanese take on the 1970s New York conceptualist and minimalist movements, the images present widely different aesthetics absorbed in the artist's homeland and the United States. Most important are the paradoxes of his native Japan. For example, consider that country's violence during World War II, a time when kamikaze pilots sank U.S. destroyers. Remember, also, Toshiro Mifune's ferocious, gut-slashing swordplay in the movie "Seven Samurai," still popular with Eastern and Western audiences.

There also are the subtlety and delicacy of the tea ceremony, perfumes of cherry blossoms and geisha entertainers.

Yet Mr. Sugimoto's masterful use of light connects and enhances the paradoxes of his varied artistic approaches. One that softly carves light into water is in "Manatee" in his "Diorama" series; another that captures the blazing light of shooting one movie in a single frame is seen in the old-fashioned-looking "Avalon Theater, Catalina Island"; still another illuminates and softly blurs the "Chrysler Building" in his "Architecture" series (1990s).

Look first at the exhibition's deceptively realistic "Dioramas," wildlife photos Mr. Sugimoto (born in Tokyo in 1948) took in natural history museums beginning in 1974.

Another trick of the eye occurs with "Portraits," a 1999 series of historical likenesses photographed in London's Madame Tussaud's wax museum.

Harkening back to Japan, Mr. Sugimoto went to Kyoto to shoot his brilliant "Sea of Buddha," 48 photos arranged as a long Asian scroll. The Kyoto temple, called the "Hall of Thirty-three Bays" or Sanjusangen-do, contains 1,001 of the near-identical statues of Buddhist kannons.

All reveal his love of detailed, layered "realities" inspired by his father's love of variety theaters. Writing in the exhibit's handsome catalog, he remembers, "My own father didn't spend all that much time with me, but occasionally he'd take me out with him. We always went to a 'yose' (variety theater) that hosted 'rakugo,' comedic one-man storytelling shows."

Next, examine the photographer's more abstract work with his "Theaters" series (1975), shown here with old drive-ins on one side of the gallery and documentary renderings of old movie theaters on the other. They begin with highly detailed photos of the iconic "Avalon Theater, Catalina Island" (1993) and end with even more intense blazes of light in several others.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Hiroshi Sugimoto Plays with Reality
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.