hiroshi sugimoto takes on a two-part project, a photography installation and garden redesign for the interior of new york city’s japan society. the exhibition, titled ‘gates of paradise,’ is on view until january 7th, 2018. it follows the journey of four japanese boys, members of the growing 16th-century jesuit community in japan, who traveled to europe to experience western christianity in 1582. the artist photographs some of the key historical and artistic features throughout italy including pisa’s tilted campanile, the pantheon’s interior, and the panels of ghiberti’s baptistery doors. 

hiroshi sugimoto gates paradise
underwhelmed by the existing, aging bamboo display, hiroshi sugimoto redesigned the interior atrium
image © designboom

 

sugimoto originally traveled to europe in 2011 to photograph theater interiors. in his visit to the teatro olimpico, palladio’s architectural and perspectival masterpiece, the theater director pointed out the inclusion of four japanese men in the foyer’s fresco — potentially the four japanese boys mentioned earlier. the artist was determined to follow in their footsteps and conduct more research to trace their steps. the NYC-based japanese artist also proposed an additional element for the exhibition — a redesign of the japan society’s interior garden. consequently, the artist’s prior experience with architecture and garden design, became an integral tool for this project. 

hiroshi sugimoto gates paradise
the artist included a bonsai tree in both sculptural installations
image © designboom

 

 

the main atrium contains an open double-height space with a small central staircase, and shallow water feature. initially the home of a bamboo garden, the artist stripped the room of the abundant, tall foliage, replacing it with amoeba-shaped rock islands, a bonsai tree, and a metallic sculpture from the artist’s personal collection. sugimoto’s photographic interpretation of da vinci’s last supper was an especially captivating addition to the exhibition. even though the subject matter is easily recognizable, elements of the composition were indiscernible. the artist explained that this visual was caused by the floods of hurricane sandy on october 10th, 2010 in new york city. the photograph, then housed in an underground storage room, was submerged in water — taking three days to pump it out. as a result, the gelatin melted and microorganisms had grown on the damp surface. 

hiroshi sugimoto gates paradise
the garden’s new design embodies the tranquility found in the rest of the exhibition spaces
image © designboom

 

 

the artist described the work’s recovery and natural transformation. ‘throughout the drying process, I took daily enjoyment in seeing how the expressions of the 12 apostles changed. the face of philip stabilized on the brink of deliquescence, like a francis bacon painting. a white haze shrouded the faces of judas and peter. christ’s face was especially badly damaged from the temple downward. leonardo painted the last supper according to the laws of perspective, with christ’s forehead acting as the vanishing point. imagine, then, my amazement when I saw a halo-like pattern of white lines radiating from precisely that point.’

hiroshi sugimoto gates paradise
japan society’s gallery interior —  installation image 
image by richard goodbody | © japan society

hiroshi sugimoto gates paradise
japan society’s gallery interior —  installation image 
image by richard goodbody | © japan society

hiroshi sugimoto gates of paradise
hiroshi sugimoto (b. 1948), staircase at villa farnese ii, caprarola, 2016. gelatin silver print
image © hiroshi sugimoto, courtesy of the polo museale del lazio-ministry of cultural heritage and italian tourism

hiroshi sugimoto gates paradise
hiroshi sugimoto (b. 1948), pantheon, rome, 2015. gelatin silver print
image © hiroshi sugimoto

hiroshi sugimoto gates of paradise
hiroshi sugimoto (b. 1948), duomo, florence, 2016. gelatin silver print
image © hiroshi sugimoto

hiroshi sugimoto gates paradise
hiroshi sugimoto (b. 1948), pieta by michelangelo, 2016. gelatin silver print
image © hiroshi sugimoto.

hiroshi sugimoto gates paradise
sugimoto discussing the details in his photograph titled ‘mediterranean sea, cassis, 1993’
image © designboom

hiroshi sugimoto gates paradise
hiroshi sugimoto (b. 1948), the last supper: acts of god, 1999–2012. gelatin silver print
image © hiroshi sugimoto

hiroshi sugimoto gates paradise
hiroshi sugimoto (b. 1948), red and white plum blossoms under moonlight (diptych), 2014. 
image © hiroshi sugimoto | courtesy of the odawara art foundation

hiroshi sugimoto gates paradise
japan society’s gallery interior —  installation image 
image by richard goodbody | © japan society

hiroshi sugimoto gates paradise
one of two metal sculptural artworks that stand prominently on both the first and second floor spaces
image © designboom

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