MIYAKO YOSHINAGA is pleased to present our second solo exhibition of the prominent Japanese photographer Hitoshi Fugo. The exhibition, BLACKOUT, will be on view from March 8 to April 14, 2018. Following the success of Flying Frying Pan, our previous Fugo exhibition in 2016, the BLACKOUT series will be the first showing of these works since the early 1980s and the first time ever outside of Japan. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, March 8 from 6 pm to 8 pm. The artist will be present.
The exhibition features approximately thirty black-and-white gelatin silver prints out of the eighty that make up the BLACKOUT series. Spanning from the early 1970s to the early 2000s, the series captures the subtle moments of the everyday passage of time — sprinklers watering an empty lawn, a paddle breaking the surface of water, flies fluttering around a bright light bulb, and sunlight illuminating part of a woman’s face. The series defies easy categorization as photo documentary or street photography. Instead, it is an accumulation of people, landscapes, and objects revealing the dynamic relationship between our mortal bodies and the unceasingly changing world.
The artist’s uniquely dark and abstract vision traces back to his childhood memory of severe asthma attacks. Recalling the sensation of blacking out while gasping for air, he writes; “I became aware through such experiences that the world, myself included, is constantly transforming.” He compares this experience to the moment he presses the camera shutter. Fugo doubts the notion that photography captures reality exactly as seen through the photographer’s eye. Instead he believes the photographer only sees the darkness of the closing shutter. Even during that millisecond as the image is frozen into a photograph, the world continues to change.
The title BLACKOUT alludes to the dramatic moment when a stage light shuts off. Fugo’s work takes us on a journey of universally experienced transitory moments that might exist anywhere at any point. In the accompanying exhibition essay, Dr. Phillip Charrier concludes that Fugo’s images are “radically disconnected from their subjects as conventionally understood, as transformations of the objects, people, insects, and surfaces that caught his eye, strange apparitions that, collectively, constitute a kind of photo-poem of recovered memories and remembered trauma.”
Hitoshi Fugo (b. 1947, Kanagawa, Japan) is a winner of Ina Nobuo Photography Award in 2010. He studied photography at Nihon University in Tokyo. In 1970 upon graduating he worked for Eiko Hosoe, the internationally known master photographer. In 1973, he became a freelance photographer based in New York and Paris. During the 1970s and 1980s, he traveled extensively and created many series including BLACKOUT, which he first exhibited in Tokyo in 1982 under the title Dark Changes. His other work includes Flying Frying Pan (1974-1994), a black and white series capturing many aspects of the surface of a frying pan, Game Over (1980-1991), a series inspired by the West Edmonton Mall in Canada, On the Circle (2003-2011) and Waterfall Watchers (1994). Last year he exhibited his newest project, Body and Horizontal Bar (2003-2015) in Tokyo and Fukuoka. Fugo’s work has had international exposure in exhibitions such as Japanese Photography Today (Spain, 1986) and Japanese Contemporary Photography (Germany, 2000). The photo book of the BLACKOUT series will be published Fall 2018 by L’Artiere, an Italian publishing house working with many important international photographers. A small booklet of Fugo’s BLACKOUT series with an essay by Dr. Philip Charrier (University of Regina, Canada) is available at the gallery.