Christopher Bucklow Exhibition

Emon Photo Gallery

poster for Christopher Bucklow Exhibition

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Christopher Bucklow was born in Manchester, England in 1957. A onetime curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Bucklow works in a wide range of media, including photography, drawing, painting, and installations. His "Guest" series of photographs, which he started in 1994, uses pinhole photography to create “light portraits” with sunlight. The series has won international attention not only from photography enthusiasts from the art museum community, but also from all walks of life.

Bucklow was one of the artists commissioned (along with James Turrell) by the Tate Gallery London in 2009 to produce an installation at Cornwall in order to observe the total solar eclipse that passed over that region. The extraordinary feat of assembling a house-sized camera obscura on the cliffs of Cornwall to record images of the eclipse is still being written and talked about. Even within the world of contemporary photography he is a commanding presence, and his work, with its roots in romantic naturalism, is in the collections of major art museums around the world, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

If photography means “drawing with light” then the points of light fashioned into images that characterize Bucklow’s Guests can perhaps be described as “light pointillism”. Bucklow’s camera does not go searching for an image rather it draws images by exposing countless points of light directly onto photosensitive paper. He first makes a life-size silhouette sketch of his subject and superimposes it onto a sheet of aluminum foil. He then makes some 25,000 pinholes within the silhouette, places it on photosensitive paper, and exposes it to direct sunlight. Each piece, then, is created by 25,000 pinpoints of sunlight. For Bucklow, this number is symbolic: in the bible a person’s life expectancy is said to be 70 years, or about 25,000 days.

In his “rayographs”, Man Ray placed an object directly on photo-sensitive paper and exposed it to light. Garry Fabian Miller exposes light to photo-sensitive paper through such materials as glass and water. Adam Fuss and Susan Derges are also among those fine art photographers who create camera-less images. With their spiritual undertone and painterly execution, Bucklow’s pieces add a new dimension to the tradition of camera-less photography that is perhaps best described as “photo drawing”. Bucklow says he first became fascinated by this phenomenon as a child observing sunlight shining through the trees to cast a million pinpoints of sunlight onto the ground. Though Japanese might be unfamiliar with the techniques that endow these pieces with their singularly dazzling color and aura, they nonetheless stir the intuitive naturalism in their souls and they must surely share the reverence for nature and the wonder of human existence they convey.

Guests, the series’ title, refers to the artist’s family, friends, and acquaintances that have appeared in that dream-like realm of the deep psyche and unconscious. These pieces peer into the psyche from the commanding view of the many emotions and thoughts - affection, hostility, love, esteem - for those around him. Just as Freud asserted that the people who appear in dreams are vivid manifestations of some aspect of the psyche, the cast of characters in these pieces each signify some aspect of the artist’s psyche. Bucklow describes this as a series of self-portraits reflected in external phenomena.
This exhibition, which is the artist’s first Tokyo solo exhibition, also includes some of his recent drawings. If Guests is Bucklow’s “light” then perhaps we can describe these drawings with their frenetic, edgy lines as his “shadow”.

This exhibit will be open at a time when the streets at night will be aglitter with colorful Christmas lighting and decorations. I am truly excited to see how Bucklow’s “light self-portraits” and drawings speak to a Japanese audience.

-Seiji Komatsu, Director

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Schedule

From 2009-11-28 To 2009-12-25

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