Light (and Some Shadows) in Keiichi Tahara’s Exquisite New Book of Photographs

Karen Kedmey
Oct 22, 2014 10:45PM

It was his grandfather, a photographer, who first planted a seed of influence in Keiichi Tahara. It was catching sight of sunlight streaming into an attic in Paris, where he was working as the lighting and visual technician for a theater company, that inspired him to follow his grandfather’s path and take up photography in earnest. Since that early experience in Paris, Tahara has pursued light. He regards it not merely as a source of illumination but as his main subject, so fitting for a medium itself based on light. His decades of photographing light in its myriad forms have now been distilled into an exquisite book that the artist has produced in collaboration with noted publishing house amanasalto, titled IN-BETWEEN (2014).

Between the handsomely crafted covers of IN-BETWEEN rest 18 of the artist’s meditations on light, often captured, as the title implies, in between various spaces, objects, and formations. Among the most direct of these black-and-white photographs is a shot of a naked light bulb, suspended from the ceiling and burning brightly in the corner of a room. Light glints off of the surface of water in another photograph, filling the picture frame with its white brightness. It spotlights two hands raised in prayer or supplication in a third print, suggestive of divine presence, or, for the more earthbound, of Tahara’s work in the theater, spotlighting the expressive movements of actors onstage.

Since where there is light there is often its opposite, there is no shortage of shadows in these luminescent photographs. In one, the artist captures the shadows traced onto a wooden floor by a pair of open glass doors and their filigreed upper frame. Between these lovely patterns two beams of sunlight cross each other, forming an exuberant “X.” Perhaps this is what Tahara saw that day in the attic, when the sunlight pierced a dark space, and set the course of his career.

Karen Kedmey