Hiroshi Sugimoto - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 26, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo
    Private Collection
    Sotheby's, London, 14 October 2011, lot 43
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Madrid, Sala de Exposiciones de la Fundación 'la Caixa'; Lisbon, Centro Cultural de Belém, Sugimoto, 29 May 1998 - January 24 1999, no. SUG-428 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 173)
    London, Serpentine Gallery, Hiroshi Sugimoto, 18 November 2003 - 18 January 2004 (another example exhibited)
    Tokyo, Mori Art Museum; Washington D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Hiroshi Sugimoto, 17 September 2005 - 14 May 2006 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 137)
    New York, Japan Society Gallery, Hiroshi Sugimoto: History of History,23 September 2005 - 19 February 2006 (another example exhibited)
    London, White Cube, Dark Matter, 7 July - 9 September 2006

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Water and air. So very commonplace are these substances, they hardly attract attention – and yet they vouchsafe our very existence.” Hiroshi Sugimoto

    With its majestic and soulful blackness, Lake Superior, Cascade River is an enthralling composition of the infinitesimal nature of two of life’s building blocks – water and air. Infinite ripples roll along the surface, the inky blackness of the lake stretches out into the distance to meet the dark moonless night sky along a gentle glimpse of the horizon line. Using his old-fashioned large-format camera, coupled with a prolonged exposure, Sugimoto creates a still lake surface undisturbed by the inconsistencies of a distinct moment and smoothed out by the permanence of time, successfully collapsing any of the associations of immediacy and instantaneity within the nature of photography.

    Beginning his series of Seascapes in 1980, Sugimoto photographed bodies of water across the world within a consistently minimal visual composition. Framing each vista to contain solely water and sky, as much as they may seem to be geographical depictions, they are instead a meditation on time through distilling onto film the qualities of light, air, water and atmosphere. Removing any focus on the physical attributes of the sea and focusing on the substances that gave rise to life – water and air, Sugimoto attempts to evoke 'something primordial or from a timeless future, elemental presented at the child-like moment of discovery, as yet unnamed but at the very moment man must name it' (Kerry Brougher, ‘Hiroshi Sugimoto: Memories in Black and White’, Sugimoto, exh. cat., Sala de Exposiciones de la Fundación ‘la Caixa’, Barcelona, 1998, p. 134), untethered from any allusions to human presence or Earthly existence.

    His ability to bridge the notions of the real with the 'unreal' through the medium of photography is wonderfully encapsulated in this lot. Having a rich exhibition history where it has previously been installed in Madrid, Lisbon, London, and Tokyo, this work exists as one that is technically accomplished within Sugimoto’s oeuvre.

  • Artist Biography

    Hiroshi Sugimoto

    Japanese • 1948

    Hiroshi Sugimoto's work examines the concepts of time, space and the metaphysics of human existence through breathtakingly perfect images of theaters, mathematical forms, wax figures and seascapes. His 8 x 10 inch, large-format camera and long exposures give an almost eerie serenity to his images, treating the photograph as an ethereal time capsule and challenging its associations of the 'instant.' 

    In his famed Seascapes, Sugimoto sublimely captures the nature of water and air, sharpening and blurring the elements together into a seamless, formless entity.  This reflection of the human condition and its relationship with time follows through his exploration of historical topics and timeless beauty as he uniquely replicates the world around us.

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Property of an Important European Collector


Lake Superior, Cascade River

signed 'H Sugimoto' on the artist studio label affixed to the reverse
gelatin silver print
118.9 x 149 cm. (46 3/4 x 58 5/8 in.)
Executed in 1995, this work is number 3 from an edition of 5.

HK$1,800,000 - 2,500,000 

Sold for HK$1,875,000

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20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 27 November 2016