Laurence Miller Gallery is pleased to present Pursuing the Sublime, an exhibition featuring five contemporary photographers in conversation with five nineteenth and early twentieth century Japanese print makers. The exhibition highlights shared themes between art of different cultures, centuries and media, including a strong sense of abstraction.
Common to all the works in the exhibition is the “pursuit” of the sublime, rather than the landscape itself. Many depict people in or passing through the landscape, while others focus on the paths and bridges built to enable a journey through the landscape.
Luca Campigotto’s 2000 panoramic Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina, shows more than the majestic field of ice, at the forefront of the picture we see people gathering at a promontory that affords a magnificent close-up view of the ice. Shotei Hokuju’s 1818 View of Ochanomizu, depicts a parade of people walking beside a river with Mount Fuji looming in the distance. Peter Bialobrzeski’s 2003 Allgau, from his series “Heimat,” and Tseng Kwong Chi’s 1987 Monument Valley, Arizona are a commentary on the role of the artist as observer and participant. Tseng’s work anticipates our current fixation with the selfie.
The pursuit can be humorous, as in Toshio Shibata’s 2012 Miyoshi City, Tokushima Precture, with a couple cruising above the treetops in an aerial lady bug car; and dark, as in Campigotto’s military observatory and cave high in the Dolomites from WWI.
The Japanese ukiyo-e prints selected for this exhibition depict a wide range of landscapes in which the human element is always present, whether featured in the design or simply represented by the artist’s vision framing the composition. In these images, the relationship between man and nature varies significantly. In Utagawa Hiroshige’s 1856 Meguro Chiyogaike, three women are leisurely strolling beneath cherry blossoms in a composition that characterizes man’s relationship with nature as serene. In Katsushika Hokusai’s 1830 Tokaido Ejiri Tango no ura ryakuzu, the design is dominated by the awe-inspiring mountain peak towering in the background, as oarsmen battle rough seas.
Works by Ray K. Metzker, Shotei Hokuju and Kawase Hasui are also featured.