Saturday, 17 September 2011

A search for form and land…

I went to see an exhibition last week, titled FORM, by Ryo Ohwada at the EMON Photo Gallery - a small, neat gallery in the backstreets of Hiroo.

Ohwada's photographs are of bonsai against gold background and the finished work is often assembled from various shots taken with different ambient light. This makes both a backward look at tradition (in both form of the work and the bonsai themselves) coupled with a contemporary, updated feel of both. As single shots or single assembled images, diptychs, triptychs and more, they play with references to paintings and traditional screens – or they ride on their own strength.

Beautiful work, in which the main aim is beauty itself, but with an exploration of tradition – and, of course, form. The bonsai themselves are museum pieces, some 200-300 years old, and it's a thought in itself that they have been cared for daily for that time span.

I love it when tradition is both maintained and updated in this way. Ohwada previously won a young photographer's award for his close-ups of the colour of vintage red wines – beautiful shots as well, but these new ones take tradition and its forms a stage further.