Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Past Presence, currently on view at Marian Goodman Gallery in New York, explores the themes of time, history, human memory and imagination – concepts that the artist has been pursuing consistently throughout his career in a range of media — photography, architecture, sculpture, installation, and theater.
The new body of work, comprises of meditative photographs that focus on 20th centaury artists -- from Brancusi, Picasso and Matisse, through Magritte, Duchamp, Mondrian, to Giacometti, Warhol, and Johns.
Sugimoto presents their paintings, sculptures and installations with large-format, black and white images that have been deliberately blurred. Objects appears floating in an idealized, opaque space. By obliterating details and removing specificity, he is hoping to present viewers with the essence of each work – the artist’s initial, raw idea, or the core conception of a subject, once „nascent in the artist’s mind”.
“My photography is always related to the concept of time,” says Sugimoto in a brief introduction to the exhibit. As an artist keenly interested in human memory and cognition, he has been seeking to explore how humans see and remember things. In “Past Presence,” yet again, he is trying to penetrate the invisible realm of the mind
By offering such raw, reduced representations of seminal (and hence recognizable) works of art, Sugimoto is challenging his viewers to call upon their own memories. In doing so, they are encouraged to reflect upon the meaning and significance of each object, but also to contemplate how we perceive and experience works of art.