Hiroshi Sugimoto, Villa Mazzacorrati, Bologna, 2015, “Le Notti Bianche”, gelatin silver print
HIROSHI SUGIMOTO | OPERA HOUSE
Saturday, September 3 – Sunday, November 6, 2022
Closed on Sundays, Mondays, and National Holidays
*Please note there will be no opening reception.
*The gallery will open during the event "ART WEEK TOKYO" as follows:
November 3 – 6 (no closing days) / 10:00 – 18:00
Gallery Koyanagi is pleased to present "OPERA HOUSE," a solo exhibition by Hiroshi Sugimoto, on view from September 3 (Sat) through November 6 (Sun). This exhibition will be the first time that the "Opera House" series would be exhibited in Japan.
The "Opera House" series is a series of photographs of centuries––––old opera houses in Europe, photographed using the same technique as Sugimoto has used since the 1970s in his "Theater" series. In other words, the "Opera House" series is a continuation of the "Theater" series, and together with the later "Abandoned Theater" series, it shows us the historical evolution of theaters in general.
The movie theaters photographed in his "Theater" series- American movie theaters built in the first half of the 20th century in imitation of European theaters––––became enormous and were decorated with exotic decorations that interweave the opulent designs of various regions and eras. The production of "Opera House" began with Sugimoto's interest in European theaters (the originals) from which the decorations were taken, so he took photographs of them and called it the act of "honka-dori (deriving from the original poem)."
I resolved to visit the original European theaters on which the Americans had based their imitations. There are many magnificent theaters in Italy, chiefly in the north, that were built from 1582, when Palladio began construction of the Teatro Olimpico, through to the 18th century. If myths are counterfeits of fiction, then movies are fictional counterfeits of reality. Classical theaters do not have screens, so I had to put one up before projecting classics of the Italian cinema which I then captured, a whole movie in a single exposure. The screen was transformed into incandescent white light that suggested some sort of epiphany.
The "Opera House" is photographed with a screen set up on the stage, showing classic films that are considered masterpieces. The camera's exposure time is set to the running time of each film, and the hundreds of thousands of film frames that are irradiated onto the screen are captured on a single piece of photographic film, creating a glowing white rectangle on the screen, and at the same time reveal the interior decoration of the Opera House.
Like "Theater," "Opera House" is a series of photographs that capture the time of a single film, but while "Theater" is a horizontal composition of a movie theater, "Opera House" is a vertical composition, due to its architectural structure. And not only the stage side with the screen is captured, but also the seats illuminated by the light from the screen are integrated into the work.
Sugimoto's journey visiting the classical opera houses of Italy continued to France. In 2018, he photographed the magnificent small theater that Marie Antoinette, who loved the theater, built for herself. The work was exhibited at the Petit Trianon of the Palace of Versailles in his solo show titled “SUGIMOTO VERSAILLES.” In 2019, Sugimoto photographed the Opéra Garnier, along with the stage set of the Noh theater "At the Hawk's Well" that Sugimoto produced. In this solo exhibition at Gallery Koyanagi, these two Opera Houses photographed in France will be on view.
Sugimoto personally selected suitable films, to be projected while photographing the "Opera House" and summarized those stories, converting them into text. We invite you to read the narrative and enjoy the intangible accumulation of fiction, and see simultaneously the physical opera theater illuminated by the radiance of imagination.
Also, Sugimoto is going to have two exhibitions in Japan from September 17 (Sat): “Hiroshi Sugimoto Honkadori” at Himeji City Museum of Art (Hyogo) until November 6 (Sun) and “Noh Climax” at the Shoshazan Engyoji Temple (Hyogo) until December 4 (Sun).
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