Feature

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto’s deceptive photographs give viewers more than just something to look at.

Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto is a master of deceit, said Joanna Shaw-Eagle in The Washington Times. The 120 photographs on display at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden trick the eye on several levels. The scientific precision of his wildlife photos makes them appear lifelike—but they are actually photographs of dioramas in natural history museums. He also tricks the eye with 'œPortraits,' a 1999 series of historical figures photographed in Madame Tussaud's wax museum. The hypnotic series 'œColors of Shadow' plays with the mind in other ways. It consists of photos of the shadows of the shikkui, or plaster finishing, in his Tokyo hilltop apartment. Each one of his pieces reveals Sugimoto's 'œlove of detailed, layered 'realities.''

In Sugimoto's hands, the camera often seems to be a time-travel machine, said Michael O'Sullivan in The Washington Post. This is especially true in the nearly detail-free 'œSeascape' photographs. According to the wall text, Sugimoto asked himself if it were possible to view a scene 'œjust as primitive man might have.' 'œThe answer, apparently, is yes.' Sugimoto chose water for its 'œtimeless immutability'—unlike land, it never changes form. His subjects include the North Atlantic from Cape Breton Island; the Caribbean from Jamaica; and the English Channel from Weston Cliff. The photographs don't try to convey sense of place. Rather, Sugimoto invites viewers to see his primeval oceans with, 'œquite simply, awe.' As a whole, this exhibit reveals that Sugimoto isn't interested in mere appearances; he wants to photograph 'œthe essence of things.'

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