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CNN Review: TOSHIO SHIBATA at Laurence Miller Gallery

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, December 2, 2013

Through May 25, 2013

Japanese photographer Toshio Shibata's work focuses on where man and nature meet. These seemingly mundane moments are at times hard to define and focus on what could better be described as civil engineering subjects rather than landscapes. The works are structured yet dynamically balanced, archetectural and flat. Their beauty emerges from their sense of harmony and of contradiction. While the strategies of portraying the landscape in Japan differs from that of the West, with a focus on the harmony between man and nature rather than a window onto a scene, neither society necessarily celebrates the language that Shibata has made his own. Shibata has turned his lens on dams, buoys, bridges, and water treatment facilities; this makes his work unusual. Rather than the subject being alluring in itself, it is Shibata's handling, framing, and sensibility that holds the attention of viewers.

Shibata works with a large format camera that allows for visual clarity and through these crystal frames light, texture, and rhythm are at play working to elevate the seemingly simple, even ugly subjects. There is something undeniable about these works. They are highly seductive. Perspective shifts and moves in what we first identify as buttons or stitches in Chichibu City, 2006, but actually the picture reveals itself to be an arial view of a very large string of buoys. A hazy green pond provides perfect reflection in Okutama Town, Nishitama County, Tokyo, 2006 for a

staked and floating divider that we want to make into the tale of a creature. Several waterfall images simply mesmerize: wiry underbrush is cold and rough and balances well against the sheer stream of water over a dam in Nikko City, 2008 and water sharp yet rhythmic cascades in broken but steady form over another dam in Kawachi Town, 1998.

For more information on the exhibition please visit Laurence Miller Gallery

CNN Review

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