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Hiroshi Sugimoto.

Photographs by Hiroshi Sugimoto. Essays by David Elliott, Kerry Brougher and Hiroshi Sugimoto.
Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, 2005. 368 pp., 130 tritone and 45 color illustrations, 10x11".

Like Isamu Noguchi before him, Hiroshi Sugimoto has been tasked with building aesthetic bridges between East and West. The danger in this is that we tend to distort the work when we view it through the overworked filters of Zen Buddhism, the Floating World, Superflat, or whatever our mind conjures when we think about Japanese art. Though Sugimoto is a Zen practitioner, he studied the Zen discipline in Southern California after immigrating to the U.S. in 1970. If anything, Sugimoto’s photography has become more “Japanese” during his three decades in America, if by that we mean that it has become more spare, and more exquisite in its subtle treatment of light and shadow. His work was initially heavily influenced by the minimalist American art scene of the 1970s, but he has carved a unique niche in the photographic world during the intervening decades. This thoughtful retrospective book brings together his bestknown series, including the dioramas, the movie theaters, the ocean series and others. The accompanying text is especially illuminating, as the artist describes how the idea for each type of work occurred to him, and how he worked to express on paper what he saw in his mind’s eye. Sugimoto’s signature is simplicity, which expresses itself most often in elegant black-and-white imagery, captured with a view camera. The pictures often convey a strange sense of lifelike stillness, the mysterious joy of recognition that comes to a calm, balanced mind. The compressed time and expansive space in the work are strangely soothing; it’s as if camera vision, for the photographer, is proof that the turbulent phenomenal world we live in is, as it should be, just a passing fancy. PHIL HARRIS Read Publisher's Description.

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