Sugimoto at the Freer and Sackler, DC

Posted on 27.01.2009

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Seascapes was on display at the Freer Gallery through January 25, 2009

<<< Black Sea/Ozuluce, 1991 / Hiroshi Sugimoto
Artist Website

I went to the Freer and Sackler after the Mu Project Gallery to continue on my ‘DC Art Weekend’ trip. In all honesty, I was not expecting to be as taken aback by the photos of Sugimoto as I was. I was actually expecting to like some of the other exhibitions between the F+S galleries better. I was wrong.

Sugimoto convinced me to come back and see these photos. Twice. And I brought friends.

I’m not sure if it was his intent, but this series of photos really evokes the same emotions in me as when I view a Rothko or Ad Reinhardt piece: overwhelming, all-encompassing calm. Floating. Which is something that I might have only guessed would come from viewing art larger than normal. But these are a decent size (around 20″x24″) and were presented in a dimly-lit room.

An excerpt from the artist’s website about the Seascapes:
Water and air. So very commonplace are these substances, they hardly attract attention―and yet they vouchsafe our very existence.
The beginnings of life are shrouded in myth: Let there water and air. Living phenomena spontaneously generated from water and air in the presence of light, though that could just as easily suggest random coincidence as a Deity. Let’s just say that there happened to be a planet with water and air in our solar system, and moreover at precisely the right distance from the sun for the temperatures required to coax forth life. While hardly inconceivable that at least one such planet should exist in the vast reaches of universe, we search in vain for another similar example.
Mystery of mysteries, water and air are right there before us in the sea. Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing.

With this in mind, it makes sense that the room was dimly lit. He is currently showing a similar collection at the Gagosian Gallery, NY, where he designed the viewing space as well. You might recognize his work as the newest U2 CD cover.

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