hiroshi sugimoto's photography retrospective explores time and memory at hayward gallery

hiroshi sugimoto's photography retrospective explores time and memory at hayward gallery

art 232 shares connections: +380

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Time Machine at Hayward Gallery

 

From October 11, 2023 to January 7, 2024, the Hayward Gallery in London presents Hiroshi Sugimoto: Time Machine, the largest survey exhibition of the Japanese artist, architect, and photographer to date. The exhibition showcases Sugimoto’s best-known works, as well as lesser-known projects, and highlights the artist’s interest in the history of photography, mathematics, and optical sciences.

 

Featuring key works from all of the artist’s major photographic series, the exhibition illuminates his philosophical yet playful exploration of our understanding of time and memory, as well as the ambiguous nature of photography as a medium that lends itself to both documentation and invention. ‘The camera is a time machine capable of representing the sense of time… The camera can capture more than a single moment, it can capture history, geological time, the concept of eternity, the essence of time itself… The more I think about that sense of time, the more I think this is probably one of the key factors of how humans became humans,’ Hiroshi Sugimoto shares.

hiroshi sugimoto's photography retrospective explores time and memory at hayward gallery
UA Playhouse, New York, 1978 | all images courtesy by Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy of Hayward Gallery

 

 

natural history & architecture through Hiroshi Sugimoto’s lens

 

Time Machine at Hayward Gallery (find more here) begins with a selection of the artist’s black-and-white photographs of natural history dioramas, a series he began in the mid-1970s. The diorama photographs draw attention less to the natural world than to its theatrical display in museums, while evoking what Hiroshi Sugimoto (find more here) has called the ‘fragility of existence.’ The theme of time is also explored in two other works on view in the exhibition: Sugimoto’s Theaters (1976 – ), shot in both movie palaces and drive-in theaters, capture entire films with a single long exposure, compressing all the dramatic action seen on screen into a single image of brilliant white. His famous Seascapes (1980 – ), which show evenly divided expanses of sea and sky without any trace of human existence evoke the immediacy of abstract painting while expressing Sugimoto’s interest in focusing on vistas that, as he notes, ‘are before human beings and after human beings.’

 

In Architecture (1997 – ), a series of deliberately out-of-focus studies of iconic modernist buildings-from the Eiffel Tower to the Twin Towers-Sugimoto demonstrates the wide-ranging ambiguity that characterizes his art, while conveying a sense of the visual germ of an idea in an architect’s mind, as well as ghostly images of what he has called ‘architecture after the end of the world.’ For his later series, Portraits (1999), the artist pointed his camera at wax models of famous historical figures at Madame Tussauds. Rendered in black and white, the more lifelike figures, from Queen Elizabeth to Oscar Wilde to Salvador Dali, seem disarmingly alive, underscoring the camera’s potential to alter our perceptions. As the artist noted, ‘However fake the subject, once photographed, it’s as good as real.’

hiroshi sugimoto's photography retrospective explores time and memory at hayward gallery
Lightning Fields 225, 2009

 

 

evoking different notions of timelessness

 

A final section of Hiroshi Sugimoto: Time Machine focuses on photographs that evoke different notions of timelessness, including his Sea of Buddha series (1995), which features an installation in a 12th-century Kyoto temple with 1000 gilded wooden statues of the Buddha, and Lightning Fields (2006 – ), off-camera photographs created by exposing sensitized paper to electrical pulses from a Van der Graaf generator. The exhibition concludes with a gallery dedicated to Sugimoto’s Opticks (2018 – ), intensely colored photographs of prism-refracted light. Inspired by Newton’s research on the properties of light, but also borrowing from color field painting and artists such as Mark Rothko, Opticks presents deeply penetrating fields of subtly varying hues. Presented alongside his photographs are two of Sugimoto’s polished aluminum sculptures that allude to both mathematical equations and abstract forms favored by modernists such as Constantin Brâncuși. 

 

‘Hiroshi Sugimoto is a brilliant visual poet of paradox, a polymath postmodern who embraces meticulous old-school craftsmanship to produce exquisite, uncanny pictures that reference science and maths as well as abstract art and Renaissance portraits. Juggling different conceptions of time, and evoking visions ranging from primordial prehistory to the end of civilization, his photographs ingeniously recalibrate our basic assumptions about the medium and alter our sense of history, time, and existence itself. Amidst all his peers, his work stands apart for its depth and striking originality of thought.’ shares Ralph Rugoff, Director of the Hayward Gallery. 

hiroshi sugimoto's photography retrospective explores time and memory at hayward gallery
Mathematical Model 002 Dini’s Surface, 2005

hiroshi sugimoto's photography retrospective explores time and memory at hayward gallery
Manatee, 1994

hiroshi-sugimoto-hayward-gallery-designboom-full-01

Kenosha Theater, Kenosha, 2015

hiroshi sugimoto's photography retrospective explores time and memory at hayward gallery
Salvador Dali, 1999

hiroshi sugimoto's photography retrospective explores time and memory at hayward gallery
Diana, Princess of Wales, 1999

hiroshi sugimoto's photography retrospective explores time and memory at hayward gallery
Oscar Wilde, 1999

hiroshi sugimoto's photography retrospective explores time and memory at hayward gallery
Conceptual Forms 003 Dini’s Surface, 2004

 

hiroshi-sugimoto-hayward-gallery-desgnboom-full-02

Sea of Buddha 049 (Triptych), 1995

1/4
World Trade Center, 1997
World Trade Center, 1997
1
 
Earliest Human Relatives, 1994
Earliest Human Relatives, 1994
Polar Bear, 1976
Polar Bear, 1976

project info: 

 

name: Hiroshi Sugimoto: Time Machine
artist:
Hiroshi Sugimoto
location: Hayward Gallery, London, UK
dates: 11 October 2023 – 7 January 2024

KEEP UP WITH OUR DAILY AND WEEKLY NEWSLETTERS
suscribe on designboom
- see sample
- see sample
suscribe on designboom

FRIEZE ART WEEK 2023 (6)

HIROSHI SUGIMOTO (14)

PHOTOGRAPHY (364)

PRODUCT LIBRARY

a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

designboom will always be there for you

milan, new york, beijing, tokyo,  since 1999
X
5