Friday, March 26 – Saturday, May 1, 2021


Closed on Sundays, Mondays, and National Holidays


Gallery Koyanagi is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Hiroshi Sugimoto, titled “OPTICKS” from Friday, March 26 to Saturday, May 1. In this exhibition, we will be showing 4 works from the ‘Opticks’ series which was first presented at Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum last year. The work originates in his idea to recreate Sir Isaac Newton’s prism experiments, and it took Sugimoto 15 years to complete, trying and incorporating the newest photographic technology.


In 1704 Newton notified the world, who believed that the sunlight was white, that in fact it was made up of multiple colors like red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, all with different refractive indices, by his publication OPTICKS. And today, Sugimoto employed and improved the observational apparatus that Newton has invented, which disperses the sunlight into the array of colors through a prism, and succeeded in capturing the exact colors, by recording it on the extinct Polaroid film.* He then produced large scale chromogenic prints by using those Polaroid films to recreate the infinite tones and gradations that appear in the gap between colors.


“The world is filled with countless of colors, so why did natural science insist on just seven? I seem to get a truer sense of the world from those disregarded intracolors. Does art not serve to retrieve what falls through the cracks, now that scientific knowledge no longer needs a God?” states Sugimoto. Known for his monochromatic photography, this is his first experiment to show a work using “light as my pigment”. Please come see and immerse yourself in the overwhelming color field.


*Note: Polaroid Corporation went bankrupt in 2008, and the production of the original Polaroid film had to be discontinued.  The works in this exhibition were created using the last stock of such film.




It has been fifteen years since I started recreating Newton’s prism experiment. Every year, as winter comes around, the sunrise comes closer and closer to the frontmost side of the prism. Traveling through the cold winter air, the light is split, then drawn into the dim observation chamber, where it is projected on the white plaster wall at exaggerated size. The profundity of the color gradation is overwhelming. I have the sense that I can see particles of light, and that each of those individual particles is a subtly different color form the next one. Red to yellow, yellow to green, then green to blue — the projected colors contain an infinity of tones and change every moment. I am engulfed in color. Particularly when the colors fade and fuse into darkness, the gradation seems to melt away into pure mystery.

I realized that I could capture those fine particles of color within the square frame of a Polaroid photograph. After years of experimentation, I managed to create a color surface that was sufficiently expansive for me to merge into the color. With light as my pigment, I believe I successfully created a new kind of painting.


Hiroshi Sugimoto

press release
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