Pine Trees,
2001

Listed as Japanese national treasures, the Shorinzu gPine Forest Screensh (ca. 1590) by Momoyama period (1568 1600) painter Hasegawa Tohaku

(1539-1610) represent a coming of age in Japanese imaging, some three hundred years after the advent of ink painting from Song dynasty (960-1279)

China. The profound expression achieved through tonalities of light and dark speak to my own continued investigations into black and white

photography. Thus I thought to enter into the Tohaku's gPine Forest,h metabolizing its inner life so as to substitute my own "ink photography."

In Japanese cultural traditions, the act of emulating works of great predecessors is called honka-dori, "taking up the melody." Not scathed as mere

copying, it is regarded as a praiseworthy effort.

I traveled the length of Japan, visiting the so-called meisho "famous sites" for pines: Miho no Matsubara, Matsushima, Ama no Hashidate. All verged on

succumbing to the ravages of encroaching modernization. Only at the very last "vanishing point" of perspective Japan, the Imperial Palace\there in

that manicured nature, that ultimate in artificial beauty\did I find my anticipated pine image. After studying each and every pine bending coquettishly

this way and that, I synthetically composed this imaginary pair of six-paneled screens. Here, then, is a painting in photographs, though the site

photographed escapes any actual location. This is everywhere and nowhere, a fiction of pictorial idealization\as was the original painting. 

 

 

- Hiroshi Sugimoto