Hiroshi Sugimoto’s ocean photos make you feel a calming sense of security

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Tyrrhenain Sea, Scilla, 1993
Hiroshi SugimotoTyrrhenain Sea, Scilla, 1993

Hiroshi Sugimoto is an photographer who was born in Japan in 1948 and now divides his time between Tokyo and New York City. Both cities influence the works of Sugimoto who began dabbling in photography in high school, but he retrained as an artist in California in 1974, where he received his BFA in Fine Arts at the Art Center College of Design. When Sugimoto moved to New York City he began working in Soho as a dealer of Japanese antiquities.

Amongst Sugimoto’s many accomplishments, he is also a noted architect. His architecture practice was established in Tokyo after receiving a number of requests to design structures. However, because he doesn’t have an architectural license himself, he works with three architects who help him to accomplish his design visions. Architecture and structure is even ident in a number of his work and exhibitions, even in his photography. Hiroshi’s works is influenced by the works of Marcel Duchamp, in addition to the Dadaist and Surrealist movements, and 20th century modern architecture.

The series “Seascapes” consists of 220 black and white photographs of the motionless ocean, captured in a way that is simply picturesque and otherworldly. The calm simplicity of the images is meditative, using repetition as a tool. Seascapes saw its start in the mid-nineteen-eighties, and has captured the view of the ocean over and over again in perfect simplicity. The series of photographs of the sea and horizons all over the world allows the viewers to travel with him to the locations including the Cliffs of Moher, the English Channel, the Arctic Ocean, Positano, Tasman Sea, Vesterålen and the Black Sea. The theme of repetition continues as each black-and-white picture is in the same size, separated in half by the horizon line.

Hiroshi uses an old fashioned large-format camera often using prolonged exposure times in order to produce flat and clean images in which the ocean has permanent creases rather then ripples and waves. He freezes time; he stills movement, and in some cases makes the seascape into an unrecognizable abyss. His use of light and dark, a haunting contrast, demonstrates the never-ending battle between life and death. It shows that life is fleeting.

The black and white photographs stand out from the works of other photographers in its use of natural light. Hiroshi’s work embraces shadows and forms. Viewers can’t help but be drawn into the open vision, to question and ponder the idea of time. As viewers gaze onto the frozen horizon, they too lose their sense of our concepts of time, space, and place. Seascapes inspires reflection; reflection the about origin of cultures, the origin of our world, and the journey it took to get where we are now. This place we are in space and time, like life, is only a fleeting moment, a part of a journey itself.

As a photographer, Hiroshi Sugimoto has a reputation of having some of the most impressive technical ability. This comes from his use of the old large format camera and his use of long exposure. This skill is evident in the way that the vast ocean and horizon becomes frozen into a structure. It isn’t difficult to see why the artist’s work has become renowned, its strong visual effects and spiritual ability to draw audiences into a meditation are undeniably powerful.

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Baltic Sea, Rügen, 1996
Hiroshi SugimotoBaltic Sea, Rügen, 1996

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Bay of Sagami, Atami, 1997, gelatin silver print
Hiroshi SugimotoBay of Sagami, Atami, 1997

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Black Sea, Ozuluce, 1991
Hiroshi SugimotoBlack Sea, Ozuluce, 1991

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Boden Sea, 1993
Hiroshi SugimotoBoden Sea, 1993

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Carribean Sea, Jamaica
Hiroshi SugimotoCarribean Sea, Jamaica

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Indian Ocean, Bali, 1991
Hiroshi SugimotoIndian Ocean, Bali, 1991

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Lake Superior, Eagle River, 2003, gelatin silver print
Hiroshi SugimotoLake Superior, Eagle River, 2003

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Ligurian Sea, gelatin silver print, 42 x 54cm
Hiroshi SugimotoLigurian Sea

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Mediterranean Sea
Hiroshi SugimotoMediterranean Sea

Hiroshi Sugimoto - North Atlantic Ocean, 1996
Hiroshi SugimotoNorth Atlantic Ocean, 1996

Hiroshi Sugimoto - North Atlantic Ocean, Cliffs of Moher, 1989
Hiroshi SugimotoNorth Atlantic Ocean, Cliffs of Moher, 1989

Hiroshi Sugimoto - North Pacific Ocean, Iwate, 1986, gelatin silver print, 42 x 54cm
Hiroshi SugimotoNorth Pacific Ocean, Iwate, 1986

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Norwegian Sea, Vesteralen
Hiroshi SugimotoNorwegian Sea, Vesteralen

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Red Sea, Safaga, 1992
Hiroshi SugimotoRed Sea, Safaga, 1992

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Sea of Japan, Hokkaido, 1986
Hiroshi SugimotoSea of Japan, Hokkaido, 1986

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Sea of Japan, Rebun Island, 1996, gelatin silver print
Hiroshi SugimotoSea of Japan, Rebun Island, 1996

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Tasman Sea, Ngarupupu, 1990
Hiroshi SugimotoTasman Sea, Ngarupupu, 1990

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Tyrrhenian Sea, 1993
Hiroshi SugimotoTyrrhenain Sea, 1993

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Tyrrhenian Sea, Conca, 1994
Hiroshi SugimotoTyrrhenain Sea, Conca, 1994

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Yellow Sea, Cheju, 1992, gelatin silver print, edition of 25
Hiroshi SugimotoYellow Sea, Cheju, 1992

Hiroshi Sugimoto - Yellow Sea, Cheju, 1992, gelatin silver print, edition of 25 2
Hiroshi SugimotoYellow Sea, Cheju, 1992



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