Hiroshi Sugimoto: Seascapes Opens at Tripoli Gallery

"Yellow Sea Cheju" by Hiroshi Sugimoto (1992) 20x24 inches
"Yellow Sea Cheju" by Hiroshi Sugimoto (1992) 20x24 inches, Courtesy Tripoli Gallery

On Wednesday, August 27 (6–8 p.m.), Tripoli Gallery in Southampton is hosting an opening reception for Hiroshi Sugimoto: Seascapes, the gallery’s latest exhibition featuring an important selection of the photographer’s contemplative and minimalist images of the sea.

Marking Hiroshi Sugimoto’s (1948–) first solo show at Tripoli, the show brings together the artists iconic seascapes, on loan from important collections and on view for the first time in Southampton since Time Exposed, his 1994-95 solo exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum. Among works on view are “Mediterranean Sea, Crete” (1990), “Yellow Sea, Cheju” (1992), “Lake Superior, Cascade River” (1995-2003) and “Tyrrhenian Sea” (1990), along with his 2011 “Five Elements” sculpture, made from optical quality glass and based on the form of a 13th-century Japanese Buddhist stupa reliquary. A unique seascape photograph is preserved within the glass sphere of the 6-inch tall pagoda—honoring and revering the element from which all life stems.

Sugimoto began his series of seascapes in 1980, traveling to remote oceans, seas and lakes around the world. Using his preferred late-19th-century/early-20th century big box camera with black-and-white sheet film, the photographer achieves high technical results with gradations and tonalities that make each picture distinct and impeccably rich in detail. Perched on high cliffs, Sugimoto is able to look across the water and capture its vastness and mystery in a minimalist composition that relies solely on the water, the atmosphere and the horizon line that precisely bisects his frame.

“My first view of the ocean came as an awakening,” Sugimoto writes in his 2005 book The Times of My Youth: Images from Memory, recalling his earliest and most vivid recollection of the sea. “I spied it from a Tokaido Line train, the seascape passing from left to right. It must have been autumn, because the sky had such vast, eye-opening clarity,” he continues, adding, “We were riding high on a cliff, and the sea flickered far below like frames of a motion picture, only to disappear behind the rocks. The horizon line where the azure sea met the brilliant sky was razor sharp, like a samurai sword’s blade. Captivated by this startling yet oddly familiar scene, I felt I was gazing on a primordial landscape.”

Sugimoto was born in Tokyo in 1948 and has lived and worked in New York City since 1974. He has had solo exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; MOCA, Los Angeles; The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, Los Angeles; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Toyko, among others. A major 30-year survey of his work opened at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo in 2005 and travelled to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas. Sugimoto has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates and awards including the Praemium Imperale Award in 2009 and 2010, the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography in 2001, and the 15th Annual Infinity Award for Art, International Center of Photography, New York, in 1999. Sugimoto’s work is held in numerous public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery, London; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; MACBA, Barcelona; and Tate Gallery, London.

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Seascapes will be on view at Tripoli Gallery (30a Jobs Lane) in Southampton from August 27–October 21, with n opening reception on Wednesday, August 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. Visit tripoligallery.com or call 631-377-3715.

"Lake Superior, Cascade River" by Hiroshi Sugimoto (1995)
“Lake Superior, Cascade River” by Hiroshi Sugimoto (1995), Courtesy Tripoli Gallery

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