The photographs of Toshio Shibata achieve a unique harmony by focusing on the interweaving of natural forces with man-made structures. Long exposures capture water's strength and innnate grace as it spills, crashes, and glides over constructed sluices and channels. Arcing paths of highways are seen carving into mountainsides and sheer cliff faces are transformed into repeating patterns as they are interlaced with human engineering. Using a large format camera, he eliminates most references to scale, sky, and horizon while providing crisp detail and texture. Under Shibata's eye, the contemporary landscape becomes a mysterious abstract composition, the result of nature being entertwined with engineering.
Shibata began his career in Japan, and the photographs he made there explore the striking visual dichotomy, but also the poetry and even elegance, of an increasingly constructed landscape. He was given a fellowship to come to America in 1996, and made extraordinary pictures of American public works projects that reflect an unmistakable Japanese aesthetic.
Toshio Shibata was born in 1949 and his work has been exhibited internationally since 1971. His work has been collected by major museums including Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Sprengel Museum, Hannover; and Centre national de la Photographie, Paris. He was given a mid-career retrospective at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in 2008. In 2013 the Peabody Essex Museum mounted a solo exhibtion of his work entitled Contructed Landscapes which featured 28 of his large scale prints.