Hiroshi Sugimoto: B.C.

“I chose to use photography, with my camera as a time machine to travel back into the past.”
— H.S.

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present Hiroshi Sugimoto B.C., an exhibition of photographs from the dawn of time. Through more than twenty works spanning the artist’s career, Hiroshi Sugimoto B.C. uses scientific, mythological and conceptual frameworks to explore the pre-photographic past. The exhibition also includes fossils from Sugimoto’s personal collection, about which Sugimoto writes, “If a photograph is able to stop time, then a fossil can do the same thing. Both photographs and fossils are records of history.”

On view from March 8 – April 25, 2018, Hiroshi Sugimoto B.C. includes work from the artist’s earliest series Dioramas, depicting scenes of ancient sea life and primitive humanoids, and from Seascapes, with calm horizons “little changed visually from the sea of millions of years ago, when humans first gained self­‐awareness.” Sugimoto considers his seascapes places where, in a distant era, “living phenomena spontaneously generated from water and air in the presence of light.”

A long-­exposure photograph of a single burning candle from the series In Praise of Shadows alludes to the role of fire in “humankind’s ascendancy over other species,” while images from the series Lightning Fields record marks emitted by primordial electrical charges on photographic paper. Also included are works from Sea of Buddha, in which sculptures in a 13th century shrine stare back at the viewer as they did more than 800 years ago, and views of ancient landscapes such as Japan’s prehistoric Kegon Waterfall shrouded in mist, and Newspaper Rock in the American southwest, covered in petroglyphs made by Native Americans more than 2,000 years ago.

Hiroshi Sugimoto was born in Japan in 1948. A multidisciplinary artist since the 1970s, his work investigates themes of time, empiricism and metaphysics. Sugimoto’s work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Gallery, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among many others. His work has been the subject of numerous monographs. Sugimoto received the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography in 2001, the Praemium Imperiale prize for painting in 2009 and the Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2013.

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Earliest Human Relatives, 1994, gelatin-silver print
Hiroshi Sugimoto, Lightning Fields 6, 2006, gelatin-silver print
Hiroshi Sugimoto, Galapagos, 1980, gelatin-silver print
Hiroshi Sugimoto, Devonian Period, 1992, gelatin-silver print
Hiroshi Sugimoto, Mediterranean Sea, Cassis, 1989, gelatin-silver print