Solo exhibition KEN KITANO – Gathering Light

IBASHO presents a solo exhibition of Japanese photographer Ken Kitano (1968, Tokyo), entitled “Gathering Light”. ​ Kitano has deployed a highly philosophical approach to his photography, which can be seen throughout the exhibition. Although there will be an emphasis on Kitano’s most recent series “Gathering Light”, the exhibition is also retrospective by showing works from his earlier series “Flow and Fusion”, “our face” and “one day”.

In the series “Flow and Fusion” Kitano captured the cityscape of Tokyo by means of a slow shutter speed during the 1990’s, which was a kind of apocalyptic period of such events such as the bursting of the Japanese bubble economy, the Great Hanshin Earthquake, and the terrorist actions of the Aum religious cult. This series can be seen as a trajectory of Kitano’s exploration of the border between ‘self’ and ‘others’. By witnessing the dynamism of people’s movement and lives, Kitano created a heightened realism of the communal, public environments he photographed questioning the role of human existence, including himself.

The series “our face” shows the next stage of his search for human conditions in this contemporary world. This epic project started in 1999. Each composite photograph in “our face” contains a large number of overlapping portraits – depicting people belonging to various different social groups – printed on the same sheet of photographic paper. The groups are varied, ranging from schoolgirls in Harajuku to the fishermen of the Boso Peninsula. The more faces printed on top of one another, the more the contours of the individual become blurred. Most of these people come from different cultural backgrounds and are regarded as some sort of ‘other’ by society. In a globalising world, the structure of our society seems to exclude and ignore those that do not represent the ‘norm’. In making the work, Kitano discovered that there are many kinds of ‘others’ on this earth, and that this should be celebrated. 

“one day” is a unique series of landscapes, made during the first decade of the millennium, in which Kitano again uses long exposures to capture sunrise to sunset throughout the course of one single day. The simple landscapes allow viewers to experience many hours of a single place in one still shot. The long streaks across the sky evoke a sense of otherworldliness. Through the work, he intends to generate a strong awareness of the earth and all of its greatness. As we concentrate on the curious path of light and the intense atmosphere, the images quickly remind viewers that we are merely a small part of a much larger universe.

His most recent project “Gathering Light” is a continuation of Kitano’s fascination with light. He ​ commenced this project after the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Kitano started to think about the earth, the sun and the universe in relation to one another. For “Gathering Light”, he installed a film camera on a rooftop from the winter solstice to the summer solstice to create a long exposure. After six months, he carefully removed the camera and recovered the film. Once the images were developed, they were scanned and adjusted with Photoshop to gather the information captured by the film. Here, the unseen traces of light jumped out and floated to the surface. Having remained unchanged for 4.6 billion years, the revolution of the Earth and the rotation of the cosmos are etched into the photographs through a myriad of lines. The image appears and finally shows what the human eye was unable to perceive. For Kitano this is the quintessence of photography. 

Ken Kitano

Kitano lives in Tokyo, where he was born in 1968. In 1991 he graduated from Nihon University’s College of Industrial Technology. He has been a freelance photographer since 2003. Kitano won the ‘Society of Photography Award’ in 2004 and the ‘Newcomer’s Award’ of the Photographic Society of Japan in 2007. In 2011 he won the ‘New Photographer Award’ for the 27th Higashikawa Award and the ‘Special Prize’ for the 14th Taro Okamoto Award for Contemporary Art. He has had numerous solo and group exhibition in Japan and abroad. 

Gathering Light
14 September - 20 October 2019
IBASHO Gallery
Tolstraat 67,
2000 Antwerp



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