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.'

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us