Hiroshi Sugimoto

Tokyo-born Hiroshi Sugimoto has lived and worked in New York since 1974. Over the years he has devoted himself to three intensive studies: Theatres, Seascapes and Dioramas. The current exhibition is comprised of images made in 1993 of theatres along the West Coast.

Since the late 1970’s, Sugimoto’s Theater interiors have concentrated on the concept of time. Photographing within the large movie palaces built during the 1920s and 1930s Sugimoto places his 8×10” view camera at the most distant central spot of each theatre. Opening his shutter as each film begins, and closing it at the final credits, Sugimoto captures the accumulated light in a sublime rectangle of white light. The ornate fantasy architecture and the empty, radiant screens are metaphors for a dream-like state, akin to starting a fire.

The most recent work investigates such Bay Area cinematic monuments as the Castro, the Alhambra, the Grand Lake and the newly refurbished Stanford Theatre. The Los Angeles theatres are well represented by such majestic examples as El Capitan, the Metropolitan and the most modern: the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood.

Alhambra, San Francisco, 1992
gelatin silver print, 20 x 24 inches

New in his work is the series of Drive-in Movie Theatres. This work was inspired while working here in The Bay Area last year. Between movies, Sugimoto was driving in Los Altos when he happened across a Drive-in theatre at night. Intrigued by the possibilities, and the randomness of star trails and flight patterns, Sugimoto positioned himself under the night sky. The resulting images replace the architectural detailing of interiors with a spare, monolithic presence. With its minimal elements this series relates to the light experiments of James Turrell as well as Sugimoto’s own images of seas and oceans.

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