Hiroshi Sugimoto


Past and Present in Three Parts

The exhibition Past and Present in Three Parts features the work of the Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto (1948); one of the most significant artists of our time, he is known for his minimalist images of movie houses and seascapes, which he began over 40 years ago. The exhibition is dedicated to these two major series Theaters and Seascapes, and also includes one of the Dioramas that he photographed at the American Museum of Natural History (New York). Sugimoto’s work invites contemplation. His photographs appear initially straightforward, but as they are studied, increasing complexity becomes apparent, offering both visual and intellectual stimulation. His theaters were photographed during film screenings yet show a succession of blank screens: Sugimoto fixed the exposure times for his shots according to the length of the film. He was thus able to “condense” the hundreds of thousands of images that make up a feature-length movie into a single picture. All you can see of the film is a white rectangle, symbolising the existential space made up by the theater. The Dioramas series brings together fiction and reality; here, the artist questions realism, a notion that is essential to photography. All we can see in the Seascapes series, created around the world, are air and water. These views of sky and sea – a visual experience we can all recognise – enable the artist to reconsider space, time and perception.

His works are included in the permanent collections of Tate Modern (London), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) and the Getty Museum (Los Angeles).

This exhibition has been made in collaboration with the Koyanagi Gallery, Tokyo. All our exhibitions were supported by the Loterie Romande, the Ernst Göhner Stiftung, the Ernst und Olga Gubler-Hablützel Stiftung, Pro Helvetia and the Casino of Neuchâtel Foundation.